Miriam's 'Manual For the Nincompoop' on Puno probe

Posted at 09/14/12 4:58 PM

On Friday, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago responded to claims questioning the jurisdiction of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Codes and Laws in probing former Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Rico Puno.

Santiago distributed the paper to the media which, she said, should be entitled "A Manual for the Nincompoop."

FIRST ALLEGATION:  The Senate Did Not Pass a Resolution, Therefore the Committee Has No Jurisdiction.
No. 1 Answer
Under the Senate Rules:
Sec. 17. The transmittal of matters to the committees may be done with instructions through a motion by a majority of the senators present.
The use of the word "may" indicates permission, while the use of the word "shall" or "will" indicates compulsion. Therefore, the use of the word "may" indicates that another method may be used, such as simple assumption of jurisdiction by the committee, instead of referral by the plenary session.
No. 2 Answer
Further, under the Rules of Procedures Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation:
Sec. 2. - Initiation of Inquiry. - Inquires may be initiated by the Senate or any of its committees if the matter is within its competence.
This provision uses the word "or," meaning that the inquiry maybe initiated by resolution in the Senate or on its own by any of the competent committees.
No. 3 Answer
Director Edgardo Garvida of the Senate Committee Affairs Bureau has reportedly affirmed that Senate tradition has upheld committee jurisdiction, even if there is no resolution, bill, or privilege speech referred by the plenary session to the particular committee. In other words, to divest the committee of jurisdiction today, the Senate has to make an exception to its own tradition. That exception would indicate discrimination and maybe even partisanship.
SECOND ALLEGATION: There is No Proposed Law
No. 1 Answer
Under the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation:
Sec. 1 . . . Such inquiries may refer to the implementation or reexamination of any law or appropriation, or in connection with any proposed legislation or the formulation of, or in connection with future legislation, or will aid in the review or formulation of a new legislative policy or enactment. They may also extend to any and all matters vested by the Constitution in Congress and/or in the Senate alone.
No. 2 Answer
Under the Senate Rules, Rule 10 on The Committees:
(30) Committee on Constitutional Amendments, Revision of Code and Laws - All matters proposing . . . the compilation and revision of existing codes and laws.
In the Notice of Meeting sent to the 11 committee members, the Chair specified the topic as: "Evaluation of the DILG Undersecretary Rico E. Puno Event, under the Administrative Code and the 1990 DILG Act, as amended by the 1998 Police Reform Act." Thus, the Committee will review the Administrative Code, and the DILG Act, as amended by the Police Reform Act, and, depending on the outcome of the hearings, recommend their revision.
THIRD ALLEGATION: The Present DILG Investigation Allegedly Conducted by Malacañang Prevents the Senate from Conducting its Own Investigation
No. 1 Answer
Under the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation:
Sec. 3. Jurisdictional Challenge. - . . . The filing or pendency or any prosecution of criminal or administrative action shall not stop or abate any inquiry to carry out a legislative purpose.
FOURTH ALLEGATION: The Probe Should be Transferred from Miriam to Some Other Senator who Chairs Some Other Committee
No. 1 Answer
What's not to like about me?