Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Corruption, a matter of executive privilege?

In Tuesday's hearing on the question of law filed by Romulo Neri with regards his attendance to the Senate probe on NBN-ZTE Scandal, an agreement was reached. According to the high tribunal, Neri should attend the hearing but could not answer the following questions:
  • Did the President (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) ask him to approve the contract despite his report of bribery and kickbacks?
  • Did the President order him to prioritize the project?
  • Did the President follow up on the contract?
It is said that those are matters of executive privilege, questions that clearly give the clues as to whether or not Arroyo indeed took a dip in the honey of corruption.

Kung sabagay, the Senate probe is not about whether Arroyo is corrupt or straight but as to whether or not the NBN-ZTE Contract is indeed anomalous. Isa pa, di pa naman nagbibigay ng final na desisyon ang Korte Suprema defining particularly what executive privilege really is and what are its limits and boundaries. But given these developments, and if in the end the Supreme Court will sustain the result of the compromise agreement, magkakaroon na ng precedent ang mga susunod na administrasyon. Una, puwede palang mangurakot ng mangurakot and when probes like the one being done by the Senate is conducted, i-invoke lang ang executive privilege. Ikalawa, magiging "for display purposes" na lang talaga ang Sections 27 and 28 ng Constitution which we quote:

Section 27. The State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption.

Section 28. Subject to reasonable conditions prescribed by law, the State adopts and implements a policy of full public disclosure of all its transactions involving public interest.

Similarly, useless na rin ang mga anti-graft laws natin at laws on the code of conduct of public officials and employees dahil sa pamamagitan lang ng executive privilege, free as a bird na ang mga nasa top positions covered by the executive privilege.

Pero di pa naman tapos ang lahat. We still believe that the Supreme Court is still independent and that it can end the crisis involving executive priveleges in the soonest possible time.

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