Sen. Alan rues cancellation of hearing for Laguna fisherfolk due to LLDA GM’s no-show

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday expressed disappointment at the non-appearance of Acting Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) General Manager Senando Santiago at the hearing of the Committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises which the senator chairs.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference after the hearing was canceled, Cayetano expressed concern for the more than a dozen fishermen who sacrificed a day’s work just to attend the hearing and meet Santiago face to face.

“Ang fishermen, marami sa kanila subsistence. Kung hindi sila makapalaot sa isang araw hindi sila kikita. Nakita nyo about a dozen or two fishermen are here kasi may concern sila… And ninais ko na mailapit sila mismo sa GM (because) there’’s nothing like face to face na pag-uusap,” he said.

Cayetano said Santiago’s non-appearance seemed to show a lack of respect for the country’s institutions.

“The basis of everything dito sa Senate — ang hearing, ang session, ang pakikitungo sa media — is not always agreement. We’re always free to disagree. Ang ating dapat basis parati ay respeto,” he said.

According to the independent senator, Santiago called up on Thursday night to say he was not available to attend the hearing because he had a meeting with mayors at the same time.

“There’s no problem kung hindi ka pwede o may conflict. Pero may text na, may telepono. Ano ba naman y’ung hiningi niya ang number ko o kaya tinawagan man lang niya ang secretary. Y’ung sasabihin niya last night na hindi siya pwede tapos lahat naman ng iba nandyan ang DENR, Agriculture, nandyan tayo, hindi maayos y’un,” Cayetano said.

He pointed out that invitations to the committee hearing were sent on Tuesday and everyone had the chance to respond well before Friday to confirm or to say they would not be able to make it.

The hearing was set to discuss the LLDA’s charter, the development plans for Laguna Lake, and the concerns of hundreds of fisherfolk in the area. Since Santiago was appointed to his post only last February, it would have been a good time for him to introduce himself to the Senate.

“There are more than 100 GOCCs, napakaraming humihingi ng hearing at briefing. Alam nating hindi pa gaanong katagalan si GM Santiago so this is his opportunity [to introduce himself],” Cayetano said.

He said he could not go on with the committee hearing on LLDA in Santiago’s absence. “What use is it to talk about the development and the resources and the charter of his agency kung siya mismo hindi interesado?” he said.

Cayetano said he would talk to the people who attended the hearing — particularly the fisherfolk — in order to get their sentiments.

“Hindi dapat magsuffer ang development ng laguna lake” because of the absence of Santiago, he said.###


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