He noted that parliamentary courtesy and tradition prevents the two highest officials of the land to be summoned by either the House of the Senate in a congressional probe affecting the two officials even if the objective of such inquiry is “in aid of legislation”.
The NPC lawmaker made the statement on the eve of the fourth hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee, where Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel Jr. is leading an inquiry based on a resolution filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
Trillanes is seeking to investigate the reported overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2, whose construction began in 2007 when the vice president was still mayor and was finished in 2012 during the incumbency of his son, Mayor Junjun Binay.
Gatchalian said, the Senate could only summon the President or the Vice President in a formal impeachment proceeding when the Senate becomes an impeachment court where senators act as judges and congressmen act as prosecutors.
“And even during the impeachment trial of a sitting president or a vice president, the two officials still has the option not to take the witness stand unless they voluntarily decide to do so. And this is still within the parliamentary tradition and courtesy being afforded to the two officials,” he raised.
Both the President and Vice President are impeachable officials, which means that they have to be booted out of office first through impeachment before the criminal charges can be filed against them, based on the provisions of the Constitution.
“This is the reason why the Ombudsman does not dare summon VP Binay to answer the plunder charges filed against him by the very same persons who are now accusing him of wrongdoing in the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee inquiry,” Gatchalian said. (Monica Cantilero)