Thursday, September 29, 2005

EO 464

A lot of righteous indignation has been expended by news comentators, members of Congress and Senate, and other pundits in the national media on Executive Order 464 issued by President Macapagal-Arroyo. The comments usually take the form of the PCIJ's "GMA Clips Congressional powers" . Yet, if you read the EO, it only states that:
"All public officials enumerated in Section 2 (b) hereof shall secure prior consent of the President prior to appearing before either house of Congress"
I cannot understand how this can affect the power of Congress. The President has administrative control over the Executive branch of government, if she wants her people to get prior consent before appearing in Congress, then that is her preorogative, it does not in any way affect the power of Congress to summon these people and ask them questions. And as the episode from the Venable hearings prove, Congress can cite people in contempt if they determine that the witness is not being cooperative or truthful. Congress can also issue a subpoena to compel any witness to appear before itself.

The EO, is not directed at Congress, it is directed towards her "official family". It is a reminder that they are under the President and should be circumspect in their utterances to the public. This was proven when Brig. Gen. Francisco Gudani and Lt. Col. Alexander Balutan were relieved from their post for not seeking presidential approval before appearing in the Senate hearings on the "Hello Garci" tapes*.

This is the time for men and women of goodwill in the Executive branch to stand up and be counted. This is the time when Filipinos should appreciate the Civil Service law. This law, which has often been perceived as a hindrance to ridding the government of corrupt individuals can be used for its true purpose. To shield good people in the bureaucracy against revenge and the arbitrary whims of those in political power.

The test case will be that of Undersecretary Miguel Luz of the Department of Education who was relieved from his post for no apparent reason.

A lot is happening in our country, we live it is said in interesting times. I hope more people will get interested so we can affect reforms.

*As an aside, according to the Philippine Star:
"Gudani also told the Senate hearing on the alleged wiretapping of the President that he had a friend who helped First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo deliver bundles of money.

The general claimed he was told that an estimated P500 million was delivered to Mindanao for vote-buying. However, he did not identify his source."
The Senate cited Secretary Gonzales for contempt partly for not revealing who the it was that recommended venable to the government and who were those who contributed the payment for the venable contract. A contract that none in the Senate has even hinted at as being illegal. Yet they have a witness that has identified two people involved in illegal activities, that if proven could change the course of Philippine history and no one in the Senate pressed the general to reveal their names much less threatened him with contempt. Can you believe it?

No comments: