September 5, 2008
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-New Patriotic Alliance) said that the recent Supreme Court decision on the Senate versus Romulo Neri gives present and future government offenders ‘unbelievably wide latitude to commit misdeeds.’
Voting 9-6, the Supreme Court yesterday upheld its earlier decision that former National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Romulo Neri can invoke executive privilege over the controversial National Broadband Network-ZTE deal.
Neri refused to answer three questions during the Senate hearings on the deal – whether the President had followed up on the NBN project; whether he was told to prioritize it, and whether the President told him to approve the deal after being informed that former Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. tried to bribe him with a P200-million kickback.
Renato Reyes Jr., Bayan secretary general said, “The most corrupt officials at the highest positions can now invoke executive privilege to cover up their crimes.”
He added, “The ruling has, of course, emboldened the Arroyo government. It now thinks that it can get away with anything, including multi-billion peso scams, extrajudicial killings and treasonous deals with foreign powers.”
Bayan, however, lauded the six justices who dissented from the majority and who ‘put public accountability above those of the executive.’ Chief Justice Reynato Puno was among those who voted against the majority.
Reyes said that ‘the people should be vigilant over the possible abuse of power that can take place in the light of this decision by the SC.’
The Bayan leader said, “History and the Filipino people’s actions will be the judge of the latest SC decision. The search for truth and the fight for accountability will continue, even outside the halls of the Senate.” (Bulatlat.com)