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Senator Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara today stressed that he is amenable to a proposal to require resource persons to submit sworn affidavits before they could be allowed to participate in investigations conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon committee (BRC).
Angara said the suggestion made by fellow senator and BRC vice chairman, Senator Serge Osmena, to vet the resource persons if they have evidence to back their claims before they can make their testimonies, is "worth considering."
"Well established is a citizen's freedom of speech but anybody who goes before the committee should have done their homework as much as possible and come with supported testimony," the chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means said, saying that he agrees with Sen. Osmena's statement to request witnesses coming before the Blue Ribbon to submit sworn affidavits and supporting documents.
"This is a strong assurance or guaranty that witnesses will not change stories midway, nor will they use the committee as a venue for personal attacks or vendettas that are unsupported by evidence that has real probative value," Angara emphasized.
"A resource person should be able able to present proof before the Blue Ribbon Committee when they allege acts of corruption or malfeasance committed by public officials. In that manner, senators could then properly study, examine and verify their claims," he pointed out.
The lawmaker added that requiring resource persons to hand over relevant documents first will ensure that "worthwhile investigations of official abuse can be probe d upon efficiently: "That way, when a Blue Ribbon hearing begins, the senators can then be sure that they have evidence at hand, saving the time and resource it would have taken to summon that evidence on a later basis."
It can be recalled that it was during Angara's cross examination of Manuel Mejorada, the chief complainant against the alleged overpricing of the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center, that the latter admitted he has no evidence to support his claims, and that he only based his conclusions on Wikipedia, newspapers and whispers.
"We do not want a repeat of Mr. Mejorada's testimony where he could not present a single evidence to substantiate his allegation," Angara concluded.