As predicted (with very little clairvoyance required, really) the Supreme Court has upheld the basic tenets of its own unanimous decision in Senate v. Ermita. Today's PDI headline on yesterday's hearing of Romulo Neri petition for prohibition against arrest for contempt by the Senate is:
Neri to attend Senate NBN deal hearing
But can’t be asked about conversation with Arroyo
(Philippine Commentary is proud to recommend its related products under these labels: executive privilege, EO464, and Separation of Powers.)
The most important upshot of yesterday's oral arguments at Padre Faura were:
(1) Romulo will attend Friday's Senate hearing, but may again invoke Executive Privilege. But the Senate may not ask him three specific questions:
Earlier, the high court, through Chief Justice Reynato Puno and Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, proposed that the Senate drop three questions they planned to ask Neri on a conversation he had with Arroyo on the NBN contract so the CHED chairman would appear at the inquiry.
These questions were:
“Did the President follow it [the NBN contract] up with you?
Did the President tell you to prioritize [Chinese firm] ZTE?
Did the President tell you to approve it?”
(2) The Senate is not allowed to arrest Romulo Neri until the Almighty Supreme Court decides to rule on his case formally, which they really don't have to do until the coast is clear or something becomes moot and academic.
So the status quo ante obtains! The cuckolding of the Congress, in particular the Senate, continues under the regime of Judicial Supremacy established by People Power in 2001 and enforced by rulings like Estrada v. Desierto, the Davide Impeachment Initiation Rule and Senate v. Ermita.
The Statement of former Cabinet Members follows:
Government Should Serve the Truth
We are former senior government officials who have served the government in the administrations of Presidents Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Estrada and Arroyo. Today we see how the institutions of government are being manipulated, weakened, and corrupted. We are committed to help rebuild and strengthen the government institutions in which we worked to serve the public good rather than personal and partisan interests.
Our people can only trust a government that governs with truth. We grant government so much power over our lives, resources and shared future because it governs with truth. When there are serious doubts about government’s adherence to truth in matters of vital public interest, no real peace or substantive unity is possible until such doubts are resolved. We cannot move on without the truth.
We are now in the midst of great disturbance because we doubt the truth behind the NBN-ZTE deal. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had belatedly cancelled the contract because of reported “anomalies”. Hence, most Filipinos reasonably conclude that corruption tainted this deal. For several months now at the hearings of the Senate investigation, we have all seen disturbing glimpses of the truth about alleged corruption that attended the NBN-ZTE deal. We are outraged by what we have seen thus far.
The President said recently: “Ang taumbayan galit sa katiwalian. Ganoon din ako, galit din ako sa katiwalian.” We affirm the first sentence. We ask that the second sentence be demonstrated in action. Having belatedly cancelled the contract to show her supposed anger with reported corruption in this deal, the President must now follow through with actions to determine the actual “anomalies” and establish responsibility for these. Otherwise, canceling the contract could be interpreted as an effort to cover up corruption rather than to pin it down and root it out.
Government should serve the truth and the President should act immediately and decisively to enable the truth to emerge.
The most credible forum thus far to establish the truth behind the NBN-ZTE controversy is the Senate investigation that has persevered in seeking facts and witnesses. The Senate is a functioning democratic institution that can help the people recognize the truth about this divisive matter. We thus call on the President to cooperate fully with the Senate and stop denigrating it so that its investigation can be completed as soon as possible. In particular, we ask the President to lead in showing government’s commitment to the truth by taking the following actions which can reasonably be done within one week:
• First, order acting Chair Romulo Neri to resume his testimony before the Senate investigation without any restrictions or limitations;
• Second, order the release and delivery to the Senate of all public records pertaining to the NBN-ZTE deal, starting with the minutes of the NEDA Board meetings on the project;
• Third, suspend DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza and Assistant Secretary Lorenzo Formoso, as the DOTC was the lead agency for this project;
• Fourth, suspend DENR Secretary Lito Atienza, PNP Director General Avelino Razon, Deputy Executive Secretary Manuel Gaite, Deputy NAIA Chief Angel Atutubo, Senior Supt. Paul Mascarinas and all those involved in the attempt to prevent Senate witness Jun Lozada from testifying; and
• Fifth, order a halt on any further attempts by such agencies as the DOJ, DENR, NBI and BIR to harass Senate witness Jun Lozada and those who are testifying in behalf of the truth.
The Filipino people can make democratic institutions work to fight corruption by even the most powerful people in our midst. We can do this based on the power of reason and the power of the people’s communal action. We deserve a government that governs with truth.
The President must demonstrate her commitment to the truth through these actions within one week as more and more of our people make their judgment. She must do these or be condemned as complicit with, and in fact, as being at the center of, the lies surrounding the NBN-ZTE deal.
The President must do these or the people will make their judgment and act on the basis of their conviction.
1. Florencio Abad (Former Secretary, Department of Education)
2. Tomas Africa, (Former Administrator, National Statistics Office)
3. Roberto Ansaldo (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture)
4. Senen Bacani (Former Secretary, Department of Agriculture)
5. Angelito Banayo (Former Secretary, Political Affairs)
6. Romeo Bernardo (Former Undersecretary, Department of Finance)
7. Emilia Boncodin (Former Secretary, Department of Budget and Management)
8. Gerardo Bulatao (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform)
9. Clifford Burkley (Former Undersecretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development)
10. Sostenes Campillo, Jr. (Former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism)
11. Isagani Cruz (Former Undersecretary, Department of Education)
12. Jose Cuisia, Jr. (Former Governor, Central Bank of the Philippines)
13. Col. Guillermo Cunanan (Ret.) (Former General Manager, Manila International Airport)
14. Karina Constantino-David (Former Chair, Civil Service Commission)
15. Teresita Quintos Deles (Former Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)
16. Edgardo Del Fonso (Former Head, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management)
17. Benjamin Diokno (Former Secretary, Department of Budget and Management)
18. Quintin Doromal, Sr. (Former Commissioner, Presidential Commission on Good Governance)
19. Franklin Drilon (Former Executive Secretary)
20. Narcisa Escaler (Former Ambassador to the United Nations)
21. Evangeline Escobillo (Former Commissioner, Insurance Commission)
22. Jesus Estanislao (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)
23. Victoria Garchitorena (Former Head, Presidential Management Staff)
24. Jose Luis Gascon (Former Undersecretary, Department of Education)
25. Marietta Goco (Former Chair, Presidential Commission to Fight Poverty)
26. Jose Antonio Gonzalez (Former Secretary, Department of Tourism)
27. Milwida Guevara (Former Undersecretary, Department of Finance)
28. Cielito Habito (Former Director-General, National Economic Development Authority)
29. Edilberto de Jesus Jr. (Former Secretary, Department of Education)
30. Lina Laigo (Former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development)
31. Ernest Leung (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)
32. Josefina Lichauco (Former Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications)
33. Narzalina Lim (Former Secretary, Department of Tourism)
34. Juan Miguel Luz (Former Undersecretary, Department of Education)
35. Jose Molano Jr. (Former Executive Director, Commission on Filipinos Overseas)
36. Vitaliano Nañagas (Former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines)
37. Conrado Navarro (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform)
38. Imelda Nicolas (Former Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission)
39. Vicente Paterno (Former Minister, Ministry of Trade and Industry)
40. Pete Prado (Former Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications)
41. Cesar Purisima (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)
42. Victor Ramos (Former Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources)
43. Amina Rasul (Former Presidential Advisor on Youth Affairs and Concurrent Chair, National Youth Commission)
44. Rodolfo Reyes (Former Press Secretary)
45. Walfrido Reyes (Former Undersecretary, Department of Tourism)
46. Alberto Romualdez Jr. (Former Secretary, Department of Health)
47. Albert del Rosario (Former Ambassador to the United States of America)
48. Francisco del Rosario (Former Chair, Development Bank of the Philippines)
49. Ramon del Rosario (Former Secretary, Department of Finance)
50. Melito Salazar (Former Member of the Monetary Board, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas)
51. Antonio Salvador (Former Undersecretary, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process)
52. Leticia Ramos-Shahani (Former Undersecretary, Department of Foreign Affairs)
53. Cesar Sarino (Former Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government)
54. Juan Santos (Former Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry)
55. Corazon Juliano-Soliman (Former Secretary, Department of Social Welfare and Development)
56. Hector Soliman (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agrarian Reform)
57. Mario Taguiwalo (Former Undersecretary, Department of Health)
58. Jaime Galvez Tan (Former Secretary, Department of Health)
59. Ricardo Tan (Former Head, Philippine Deposit Insurance Commission)
60. Wigberto Tañada (Former Commissioner, Bureau of Customs)
61. V. Bruce Tolentino (Former Undersecretary, Department of Agriculture)
62. Veronica Villavicencio (Former Lead Convenor, National Anti-Poverty Commission)
63. Deogracias Vistan (Former President, Land Bank of the Philippines)
Speaking of bloodsuckers, Zamboanga Journal has a neat post on vampire bats in Mindanao.