"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Thursday, September 14, 2006

PCGG execs accused of Philcomsat fund theft

Sen. Richard Gordon on Thursday accused officials of the Presidential Commission on Good Government of stealing funds from the government-sequestered Philippine Communications Satellite Corp. (Philcomsat), ANC reported.

The accusation came after PCGG Chairman Camilo Sabio refused to answer questions posed by the panel investigating the financial irregularity in Philcomsat.

"You don’t want to answer because the answer is clear. You are milking the cow that you pretend to protect," Gordon, chairman of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises, said, raising his voice.

Sabio invoked immunity from the panel’s investigation. He said that Executive Order No. 1 issued in February 1986 by then-President Corazon Aquino stipulates that PCGG officials are not required to testify or submit documents in any judicial, legislative or administrative proceeding.

"The facts that would be obtained from us would be obtained at a proper hearing now pending at the Sandiganbayan and later in the honorable Supreme Court," Sabio said.

Gordon said that he found it offensive how Sabio continued to lecture on the senators and display high-handedness.

"We are here to seek answers for the people and no government official will come here and tell us [he is] immune because of an executive order of dubious legality," he said.

Gordon reiterated that PCGG was created after the downfall of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to recover his and his associates’ alleged ill-gotten wealth.

"Twenty years have passed and there is no report. Twenty years have passed and we see people getting P300,000 when they should be getting P10,000. We see people getting millions of pesos," he said.

He added that the immunity clause that Sabio cited is constitutionally inconsistent and therefore invalid.

Sabio earlier criticized the Senate over what he called its "grave abuse of power" after it had him arrested for snubbing summons to appear before a panel investigation.

"The subpoena, summons, show-cause order and most especially the arrest warrant against me were null and void from the beginning. [The Senate has] no authority or whatsoever to do that," he said.

During a heated argument at the panel hearing, Gordon described Sabio as one who is delusional and a great actor.

"I know that this man is not physically sick. He is filled with delusions that he is filled with the franchise of intelligence that he is the only one who can say so," he said.

"You are under the illusion that you are totally immune," Gordon told Sabio.

Gordon said he was offended by the kind of behavior Sabio displayed at the hearing that seemed disrespectful of the panel.

"You shout at me, no wonder your blood pressure shoots up," he told Sabio.

Following his arrest on Tuesday, Sabio was taken to the Senate building in Pasay City where he underwent a closed-door medical examination to check his blood pressure. Reports said Sabio's blood pressure shot up as a result of his arrest.