BUDGET Secretary Benjamin Diokno cannot invoke “executive privilege.”
This is according to House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. as he slammed Diokno for his continued refusal to attend the House probe into budget insertions amounting to billions.
According to Andaya, Diokno is ill-advised to invoke executive privilege to avoid confronting the evidence piling up against him.
“Executive privilege is an exemption to the power of inquiry of the legislative department,” Andaya said.
“Sec. Diokno is all over town, telling journalists that he will not honor the invitation of the House to explain his side on the flood control scam issue. His reason: the Executive Department advised him not to attend the House probe,” he said.
Diokno also cited his bad experience during the congressional Question Hour as reason for invoking the executive privilege not to appear in Congress.
“Bad experience is never a valid legal reason to snub the House inquiry on the flood control scam,” Andaya added.
Andaya stressed that executive privilege only covers specific categories of information such as residential conversations, correspondences, and discussions in closed-door Cabinet meetings; information on military and diplomatic secrets and those affecting national security; and information on investigations of crimes by law enforcement agencies before the prosecution of the accused.
“Existing laws and jurisprudence have even declared that there is an absence of any recognition that exempts executive officials from their duty to disclose information by the mere fact of being executive officials,” Andaya said.
“I have yet to encounter a law which places bad personal experience under the ambit of executive privilege. Sec. Diokno is ill-advised to invoke executive privilege to avoid confronting the evidence piling up against him,” he added.
Andaya said it’s the right against self-incrimination that he should invoke.
Diokno was being investigated over alleged irregularities in the budget allocation and cash-based budgeting system.
Andaya claimed that Diokno gave huge amount of fund allocations to the province of Sorsogon, particularly in Casiguran, where his in-laws are local executives. Diokno’s daughter is married to Sorsogon Vice Governor Ester Hamor’s son Jojo Sicat.