Senator Francis Tolentino (File photo)

MANILA – Senator Francis Tolentino, chairperson of the Senate Blue-Ribbon Committee, announced on Wednesday that lawyers of respondents, witnesses, and resource persons will finally be given a chance to participate in subsequent committee proceedings.

Tolentino said this will be the first time that the Philippine Senate's Blue-Ribbon Committee will give lawyers a "bigger role."

"May karapatan sila. Yung abogado nila (They have a right. Their lawyer) will have a role. Perhaps, not an adversarial speaking role but definitely a big role," he said during an interview at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum.

The move, Tolentino said, is expected to give equal rights to respondents who are required to deliver sensitive and relevant information to the committee.

"So makikita mo dito ngayon, talagang pantay-pantay na to. Hindi pwedeng sabihin na inusig sila doon, hindi sila pinagsalita, hinaharang sila, hindi sila nabigyan ng (So, you can see now that this will be really equal. No one can say that they were prosecuted there, they were not given the chance to speak, they are being blocked, or they were not given a) day in committee," he said.

Tolentino also sees it as an empowerment to lawyers as members of the legal profession.

He said he will make the formal detailed announcement of the new committee rule in the latter part of the last hearing on the controversial Department of Education laptops on Thursday.

During his assumption as the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Tolentino also implemented the citing of the committee findings every time an investigation concludes which he claims to be the first time it would be done in the 106 years of existence of the Philippine Senate. (PNA)