Former Senator Richard Gordon yesterday asked the Senate and the Lower House to be fair in conducting investigations, following reports that former Armed Forces Chief and Defense Secretary General Angelo Reyes shot himself as a result of the Senate hearing that linked him to corruption in the military.
Gordon, who was in Bacolod City yesterday for the Philippine Red Cross-Negros Occidental Chapter assembly, said the Charters of both Houses state that they can investigate in aid of legislation. But what is important is that they stick to that premise and make sure that nobody is insulted, he said.
“Once you use it as a way in which you can get back at your enemies, or, for that matter, become unfair or engage in surprise movements against people who are not prepared or not accompanied by lawyers… the Lower House will lose the respect that it so badly needs,” Gordon said.
In the same manner, once a witness goes before the Senate or the Lower House, he must be prepared to answer forthrightly, he said.
Gordon recalled that when he was in the Senate blue ribbon committee, he tried to be fair. But when someone is trying to be evasive and you know that he is hiding things, he should be put in contempt, he said.
If the senator or congressman is out of line, the people also have a right, Gordon said. They should not be intimidated by the Senate since they are there to tell the truth, he said.
So if they are being bullied, they have the right to go to the Senate or the Congress and ask the Committee on Ethics to investigate the conduct of any congressman or senator, he added.
Gordon said the chairman has to have a hand on the Senate and the Lower House. “It is hard to be a chairman but it is important that you are in control of the investigation all the time because you are the conductor,” he said.
When he was senator, he would put a stop right away if there are senators throwing insults at those being investigated, which he believes had happened in the present investigation, Gordon said.
“Statements against the family or the mental condition of an individual is not fair. You are not there to bully, or to intimidate. You are there as a representative of the people and you must do so in a proper manner,” he said.
Gordon said “You can get mad at the witness but you should not insult him.” If he lies he can be put in contempt, he said.*CGS