GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 14 March) — The highly-anticipated Senate investigation here on Friday into the alleged P8.7 billion road right-of-way (RROW) “scam” has been rescheduled anew next week.
Vice Mayor Shirlyn Banas-Nograles said Wednesday the Senate blue ribbon and public works committees have moved the hearing to March 22-23 to allow more senators to participate.
The joint hearing, which was set in the Senate calendar as a consultative meeting on the “misuse of government funds for road right-of-way project,” will be held at the city council session hall.
“The hearing date was rescheduled upon the request of Senator (Richard) Gordon,” the vice mayor said.
Gordon, who chairs the blue ribbon committee, was expected to preside over the joint hearing.
The Senate hearing has already been rescheduled thrice since last month due to conflicts with the schedule of some senators. It was initially set last Feb. 2, then moved to Feb. 23, March 16 and now on March 22-23.
Dominador Lagare III, supervising legislative officer of the office of Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao, said four senators have already confirmed to attend the hearing as of last Monday.
These are senators Vicente Sotto III, Juan Edgardo Angara, Gregorio Honasan and Pacquiao.
The office of Senator Pacquiao, who initiated the conduct of the senate inquiry on the RROW controversy last year, has been coordinating the preparations for the Senate inquiry.
The initial hearing, which was held at the Senate, was facilitated by the committee on public works, which Pacquiao chairs.
Nograles reiterated that the city council is all set for the conduct of the hearing, especially with the security arrangements.
She said they have submitted to the Senate the event’s security plan, which was crafted in coordination the city police and the Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan.
On Tuesday, the council passed a resolution authorizing the temporary closure of roads within the city government center, especially around the legislative building, during the two-day Senate hearing.
The vice mayor said they will limit the number of observers as the city council session hall can only accommodate 150 persons.
But she said concerned residents may send questions regarding the controversy through their office.
The hearing will be streamed live through the council’s website and covered by several national television channels, she said.
“Everything is in place already and we’re just waiting for the final list of senators who will be attending the hearing,” she said.
Senator Pacquiao pushed for the conduct of the senate hearing here since the controversy happened in the city and involved individuals as well as offices based in the area.
The supposed fake RROW claims covered road expansion projects in portions of the national highway here, including those in Barangays Batomelong to Lagao, Calumpang, Tambler and Labangal.
The alleged scam reportedly involved some P8.7 billion in RROW settlements based on supposed fictitious and fabricated documents. (MindaNews)