MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 29, 2008) – Malacanang on Friday said the legal team recently formed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to study the recommendation of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to lift Executive Order 464, has reached a consensus.
Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said the legal team would meet with representatives of the CBCP probably next week to discuss the Palace position on the proposed abolition of EO 464, according to the official Philippine News Agency.
"On our end, yes (we’ve reached a consensus) but we have to meet with representatives of the CBCP," he said without disclosing what the legal team agreed on.
"We already have a stand on this subject to discussion with the bishops," he said. "We will brief you as soon as the meeting takes place."
The influential CBCP issued a pastoral statement on Tuesday evening, after an emergency meeting called amid growing protests, many of these joined by clergy and religious, brought about by the botched national broadband network (NBN) deal controversy.
In the pastoral statement issued last Tuesday, the CBCP sought the abolition of EO 464 and for the President to allow her subordinates to reveal the anomalies in government, particularly on the allegedly tainted NBN contract forged with China’s ZTE Corp., "without being obstructed in their testimony no matter who is involved."
In recommending for the abolition of EO 464, the CBCP noted "so that those who might have knowledge of any corruption in branches of government, may be free to testify before the appropriate investigating bodies."
It also asked the Senate and the Ombudsman to use their distinct power to fight corruption; called on media to be objective in their reporting; and encouraged the creation of a "culture of truth and integrity -- the new version of people power."
"We are convinced that the search for truth in the midst of charges and allegations must be determined and relentless, and that the way to truth and integrity must be untrammeled, especially at the present time when questions about the moral ascendancy of the present government are being put in question," the CBCP statement said.
Malacanang earlier said there should be safeguards to government officials appearing before the Senate should EO 464 as recommended by the CBCP in their pastoral statement.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the legal team is studying the possibility of scrapping EO 464.
He however, stressed the team wants to ensure that there should be "safeguards" for executive officials appearing before Senate inquiries should the Order be scrapped.
Ermita said the team will submit its recommendation to the President next week.