Roxas: Search for truth steadily moves forward

Senator Mar Roxas said the search for truth behind the National Broadband Network (NBN) controversy is “steadily moving forward,” with the Supreme Court offering a solution to the gridlock between the legislative and the executive due to former NEDA chair Secretary Romulo Neri’s invocation of executive privilege in Senate hearings.

Roxas, co-chair of the Joint Senate Committees probing the NBN deal, said he believes the high court offered a “reasonable and practical way forward” by offering a compromise: to let the former Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Neri appear before the Senate, but the “three questions” where Neri previously raised executive privilege would be “deemed asked.”

I find this a reasonable, practical way forward. This is an assertion of the Senate’s right to call on resource persons in the conduct of its hearings. It also prescribes a sound process for the Court to look at how the Office of the President uses executive privilege,” Roxas said, adding that this spares everyone the need to keep coming back to the Supreme Court for guidance every time executive privilege is invoked.

I appreciate the desire of the Supreme Court to prescribe a fair and transparent process in anticipation of further questions that Secretary Neri will likely refuse to answer. Dahil malinaw ang proseso, lalong titibay at lalalim ang resulta ng hearings ng Senado,” he said.
Roxas, Liberal Party President, hopes that this compromise will reveal more facts that have yet to be uncovered due to Secretary Neri’s non-appearance in subsequent hearings. Neri had testified that he discussed with the President the alleged attempt of former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos to bribe him with P200 million to facilitate the NBN project.

We hope that Secretary Neri will supply more missing pieces in the jigsaw puzzle. It is now his turn to show he is worthy of the considerations given to him and not botch this opportunity to come clean,” he said.

Kataka-taka na kahit ang mismong abogado ni Secretary Neri ay hindi pa nakikita ang kontrata ng ZTE deal at hindi alam ang proseso na pinagdaanan nito,” he said.
He said the Liberal Party, whose members were present in Tuesday’s oral arguments, will continue to be vigilant and will continue to call on the President to “save the Republic” by allowing the truth to come out.

The compromise deal, which was discussed in a closed-door session late Tuesday night among the Supreme Court justices, the senators and their counsels, and the counsels of Neri, will be taken up with all senators today to come up with a common stand.

Neri would also be allowed to once more invoke executive privilege in refusing to ask questions, but the Senate will be free to cite him in contempt. The Senate will also be allowed to contest all of Neri’s other claims of executive privilege, for these to be decided once and for all by the Supreme Court.

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