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Diokno can’t invoke executive privilege to evade House probe, says Andaya

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The powerful House committee on rules may compel Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to attend its next hearing over the alleged flood control scam.

Diokno earlier refused to honor the invitation of the House to explain his side on the flood control scam issue following his bad experience during the chamber’s ‘Question Hour’ last December.

Majority Flood Leader Rolanda Andaya stressed that any bad experience was “never a valid legal reason to snub” any congressional inquiry. He added that Diokno can’t invoke executive privilege as his shield to evade queries of lawmakers.

“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,” he said.

He reminded that Diokno that executive privilege can’t be used as an exemption to the power of inquiry of the legislative department.

The House official stressed that executive privilege only covers specific categories of information such as “residential conversations; correspondences; discussions in closed-door cabinet meetings; information on military and diplomatic secrets as well as those affecting national security; and information on investigations of crimes by law enforcement agencies before the prosecution of the accused.”

Andaya said it is ill-advised for Diokno to invoke executive privilege to avoid confronting the evidence piling up against him.

“I have yet to encounter a law which places bad personal experience under the ambit of executive privilege… maybe, it should be the right against self-incrimination that he should invoke,” said Andaya.

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