Tolentino: Senate blue ribbon panel won't treat persons appearing before it like criminals

The incoming chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon in the 19th Congress today (June 9) assured that persons appearing before it would not be treated like criminals.

Senator Francis ‘’Tol’’ Tolentino, who is expected to be voted upon as Senate Blue Ribbon committee chairman when the 19th Congress starts on July 25, said anyone who is called to appear has inherent rights that the committee should recognize.

Those found liable during committee hearings should certainly expect to face the full force of the law, he said.

Tolentino said he would make this issue clear to his colleagues in the 24-member Senate when the 19th Congress begins.

There should be clear guidelines in investigations, in aid of legislations, he added.

Tolentino emphasized that his priority would be a probe into the reported loss of P843.9 billion at the Social Security System (SSS) to determine the basis of such a loss although the SSS said this ‘’loss’’ is due to the change in accounting process.

He is a member of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee that did not sign the draft report on the investigation into the alleged overpriced purchase of more than P10 billion worth of Covid-related medical supplies by the Procurement Service, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) from Pharmally Pharmaceutical corporation.

The draft report was archived by the Senate before it adjourned sine die on June 1 because it lacked two more votes.

Only nine signed by report drafted by outgoing Senator Richard J, Gordon.

Tolentino, a lawyer, had said he did not sign the report that found President Duterte liable because the Chief Executive had no knowledge of the transaction of Pharmally.

He also said that he has submitted proposed laws addressing problems encountered in the Pharmally contracts such as amendments to the Procurement laws and limiting the powers of persons acting as officers in charge in government agencies.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon found the PS DBM-Pharmally transaction as ‘’questionable’’ because Pharmally only had a paid up P625,000.