The Truth Commission
• Truth Commission will just investigate, not prosecute
• Powers limited to recommendation for prosecution
• It will have a life-span of two and half years. Up to Dec. 2012
• Scope of work: reports of graft and corruption during the previous administration . Meaning the administration of Gloria Arroyo.
• The Commission will decide which cases to investigate
House Minority Leader Edcel Lagman of the Arroyo-led Lakas-Kampi-CMD party said in a statement on Saturday that their bloc is “seriously considering” challenging the constitutionality of Executive Order No. 1 before the courts.
Lagman said that the creation of the commission may have been unconstitutional, since only Congress can create new offices and commissions based on the 1987 Constitution.
EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 1
CREATING THE PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION OF 2010
WHEREAS, Article XI, Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines solemnly enshrines the principle that a public office is a public trust and mandates that public officers and employees, who are servants of the people, must at all times be accountable to the latter, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives;
WHEREAS, corruption is among the most despicable acts of defiance of this principle and notorious violation of this mandate;
WHEREAS, corruption is an evil and scourge which seriously affects the political, economic, and social life of a nation; in a very special way it inflicts untold misfortune and misery on the poor, the marginalized and underprivileged sector of society;
WHEREAS, corruption in the Philippines has reached very alarming levels, and undermined the people’s trust and confidence in the Government and its institutions;
WHEREAS, there is an urgent call for the determination of the truth regarding certain reports of large scale graft and corruption in the government and to put a closure to them by the filing of the appropriate cases against those involved, if warranted, and to deter others from committing the evil, restore the people’s faith and confidence in the Government and in their public servants;
WHEREAS, the President’s battlecry during his campaign for the Presidency in the last elections “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” expresses a solemn pledge that if elected, he would end corruption and the evil it breeds;
WHEREAS, there is a need for a separate body dedicated solely to investigating and finding out the truth concerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration, and which will recommend the prosecution of the offenders and secure justice for all;
WHEREAS, Book III, Chapter 10, Section 31 of Executive Order No. 292, otherwise know as the Revised Administrative Code of the Philippines, gives the President the continuing authority to reorganize the Office of the President.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BENIGNO SIMEON AQUINO III, President of the Republic of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby order:
SECTION 1. Creation of a Commission. – There is hereby created the PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION, hereinafter referred to as the “COMMISSION”, which shall primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people, committed by public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration; and thereafter recommend the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon to ensure that the full measure of justice shall be served without fear or favor.
The Commission shall be composed of a Chairman and four (4) members who will act as an independent collegial body.
SECTION 2. Powers and Functions. – The Commission, which shall have all the powers of an investigative body under Section 37, Chapter 9, Book I of the Administrative Code of 1987, is primarily tasked to conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation of reported cases of graft and corruption referred to in Section 1, involving third level public officers and higher, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration and thereafter submit its finding and recommendations to the President, Congress and the Ombudsman. In particular, it shall:
a) Identify and determine the reported cases of such graft and corruption which it will investigate;
b) Collect, receive, review and evaluate evidence related to or regarding the cases of large scale corruption which it has chosen to investigate, and to this end require any agency, official or employee of the Executive Branch, including government-owned or controlled corporations, to produce documents, books, records and other papers;
c) Upon proper request or representation, obtain information and documents from the Senate and the House of Representatives records of investigations conducted by committees thereof relating to matters or subjects being investigated by the Commission;
d) Upon proper request and representation, obtain information from the courts, including the Sandiganbayan and the Office of the Court Administrator, information or documents in respect to corruption cases filed with the Sandiganbayan or the regular courts, as the case may be;
e) Invite or subpoena witnesses and take their testimonies and for that purpose, administer oaths or affirmations as the case may be;
f) Recommend, in cases where there is a need to utilize any person as a state witness to ensure that the ends of justice be fully served, that such person who qualifies as a state witness under the Revised Rules of Court of the Philippines be admitted for that purpose;
g) Turn over from time to time, for expeditious prosecution, to the appropriate prosecutorial authorities, by means of a special or interim report and recommendation, all evidence on corruption of public officers and employees and their private sector co-principals, accomplices or accessories, if any, when in the course of its investigation the Commission finds that there is reasonable ground to believe that they are liable for graft and corruption under pertinent applicable laws;
h) Call upon any government investigative or prosecutorial agency such as the Department of Justice or any of the agencies under it, and the Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, for such assistance and cooperation as it may require in the discharge of its functions and duties;
i) Engage or contract the services of resource persons, professionals and other personnel determined by it as necessary to carry out its mandate;
j) Promulgate its rules and regulations or rules of procedure it deems necessary to effectively and efficiently carry out the objectives of this Administrative Order and to ensure the orderly conduct of its investigations, proceedings and hearings, including the presentation of evidence;
k) Exercise such other acts incident to or are appropriate and necessary in connection with the objectives and purposes of this Order.
SECTION 3. Staffing Requirements. – The Commission shall be assisted by such assistants and personnel as may be necessary to enable it to perform its functions, and shall formulate and establish its organizational structure and staffing pattern composed of such administrative and technical personnel as it may deem necessary to efficiently and effectively carry out its functions and duties prescribed herein, subject to the approval of the Department of Budget and Management. The officials of the Commission shall in particular include, but not limited to, the following:
1. General Counsel
2. Deputy General Counsel
3. Special Counsel
4. Clerk of the Commission
SECTION 4. Detail of Employees. – The President, upon recommendation of the Commission, shall detail such public officers or personnel from other departments or agencies which may be required by the Commission. The detailed officers and personnel may be paid honoraria and/or allowances as may be authorized by law, subject to pertinent accounting and auditing rules and procedures.
SECTION 5. Engagement of Experts. – The Truth Commission shall have the power to engage the services of experts as consultants or advisers as it may deem necessary to accomplish its mission.
SECTION 6. Conduct of Proceedings. – The proceedings of the Commission shall be in accordance with the rules promulgated by the Commission. Hearings or proceedings of the Commission shall be open to the public. However, the Commission, motu propio, or upon the request of the person testifying, hold an executive or closed-door hearing where matters of national security or public safety are involved or when the personal safety of the witness warrants the holding of such executive or closed-door hearing. The Commission shall provide the rules for such hearing.
SECTION 7. Right to Counsel of Witnesses/Resource Persons. – Any person called to testify before the Commission shall have the right to counsel at any stage of the proceedings.
SECTION 8. Protection of Witnesses/Resource Persons. – The Commission shall always seek to assure the safety of the persons called to testify and, if necessary make arrangements to secure the assistance and cooperation of the Philippine National Police and other appropriate government agencies.
SECTION 9. Refusal to Obey Subpoena, Take Oath or Give Testimony. – Any government official or personnel who, without lawful excuse, fails to appear upon subpoena issued by the Commission or who, appearing before the Commission refuses to take oath or affirmation, give testimony or produce documents for inspection, when required, shall be subject to administrative disciplinary action. Any private person who does the same may be dealt with in accordance with law.
SECTION 10. Duty to Extend Assistance to the Commission. – The departments, bureaus, offices, agencies or instrumentalities of the Government, including government-owned and controlled corporations, are hereby directed to extend such assistance and cooperation as the Commission may need in the exercise of its powers, execution of its functions and discharge of its duties and responsibilities with the end in view of accomplishing its mandate. Refusal to extend such assistance or cooperation for no valid or justifiable reason or adequate cause shall constitute a ground for disciplinary action against the refusing official or personnel.
SECTION 11. Budget for the Commission. – The Office of the President shall provide the necessary funds for the Commission to ensure that it can exercise its powers, execute its functions, and perform its duties and responsibilities as effectively, efficiently, and expeditiously as possible.
SECTION 12. Office. – The Commission may avail itself of such office space which may be available in government buildings accessible to the public space after coordination with the department or agencies in control of said building or, if not available, lease such space as it may require from private owners.
SECTION 13. Furniture/Equipment. – The Commission shall also be entitled to use such equipment or furniture from the Office of the President which are available. In the absence thereof, it may request for the purchase of such furniture or equipment by the Office of the President.
SECTION 14. Term of the Commission. – The Commission shall accomplish its mission on or before December 31, 2012.
SECTION 15. Publication of Final Report. – On or before December 31, 2012, the Commission shall render a comprehensive final report which shall be published upon directive of the President. Prior thereto, also upon directive of the President, the Commission may publish such special interim reports it may issue from time to time.
SECTION 16. Transfer of Records and Facilities of the Commission. – Upon the completion of its work, the records of the Commission as well as its equipment, furniture and other properties it may have acquired shall be returned to the Office of the President.
SECTION 17. Special Provision Concerning Mandate. If and when in the judgment of the President there is a need to expand the mandate of the Commission as defined in Section 1 hereof to include the investigation of cases and instances of graft and corruption during the prior administrations, such mandate may be so extended accordingly by way of a supplemental Executive Order.
SECTION 18. Separability Clause. If any provision of this Order is declared unconstitutional, the same shall not affect the validity and effectivity of the other provisions hereof.
SECTION 19. Effectivity. – This Executive Order shall take effect immediately.
DONE in the City of Manila, Philippines, this 30th day of July 2010.
(SGD.) BENIGNO S. AQUINO III
By the President:
(SGD.)PAQUITO N. OCHOA, JR.