BUDGET SECRETARY BEN DIOKNO sought a reset of the hearing scheduled Friday morning ordered by a subpoena issued by the House of Representatives (HoR) Appropriations Committee only on Thursday morning on issues over the national budget by citing violations of the House rules governing inquiries in aid of legislation.
In a letter to House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, while assuring Congress of cooperation, Diokno invoked the right of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) officials and staff to proper notice and a fair and just hearing.
The Subpoena Ad Testificandum signed by House Speaker Arroyo and Committee on Appropriations chair Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr, was received by the DBM 11 am, Thursday morning with the hearing scheduled the next day, Friday at 10 am., Diokno said.
While Diokno welcomed the subpoena from the HOR to clarify “issues regarding the 2019 budget, clearly there was no proper notice and not enough time to allow him and other DBM officials and staff to adequately prepare for the HoR hearing.
Diokno also invoked HoR rules and specifically cited Section 8 (3) of the Rules of Procedure Governing Inquiries in Aid of Legislation of the House of Representatives, which provides:
“Subpoena shall be served to a witness at least three (3) days before a scheduled hearing in order to give the witness every opportunity to prepare for the hearing and to employ counsel, should the witness desire.”
Diokno, in his letter to House Speaker Arroyo, also requested to be furnished with a list of questions to be raised during the said inquiry, consistent with Supreme Court’s ruling in Neri vs. Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, et al. which reiterates an earlier ruling Senate vs. Ermita:
[T]he invitations should contain the possible needed statute which prompted the need for the inquiry, along with the usual indication of the subject of inquiry and the questions relative to and in furtherance thereof. Compliance with this requirement is imperative, both under Sections 21 and 22 of Article VI of the Constitution. This must be so to ensure that the rights of both persons appearing in or affected by such inquiry are respected as mandated by said Section 21 and by virtue of the express language of Section 22.
Diokno last appeared at the HoR upon being called by Rep. Andaya for Question Hour on December 11, 2018 where the Budget Secretary was given an advance set of questions, none of which was asked, and where Diokno was ridiculed and badgered by Andaya, triggering a statement in the following days from no less than President Duterte and Cabinet members criticizing the HoR for disrespecting and harassing Diokno.
“Whatever is the real purpose of the House in calling me, I will appear in Congress. However, I take my duty to the people very seriously. It is only right that we prepare in order to give the Filipino people a complete and clear picture of the matter, and avoid giving information that only suits a specific agenda. We are definitely cooperating but it is imperative that we be given the proper amount of time to prepare.” Diokno said.
The DBM, however, will submit today to the Committee on Appropriations copies of the documents being subpoenaed for its perusal and reference.
PR No. 2019-30