Minority senators hit Gordon’s complaint threat vs Trillanes
Minority senators hit Gordon’s complaint threat vs Trillanes
Marvin Sy (The Philippine Star) - September 2, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -  The Senate minority bloc yesterday aired concern over the threat of Sen. Richard Gordon to file an ethics complaint against Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, which it said appears to be an attempt to harass and intimidate a member of the political opposition.

Composed primarily of stalwarts of the Liberal Party, the minority bloc is led by Minority Leader Franklin Drilon with Sens. Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros and Trillanes as its members.

In a statement, the minority senators said that they are standing behind Trillanes “in his desire to ferret out the truth and will oppose efforts to stifle dissent and silence the opposition that are essential in a vibrant democracy.”

“We cannot help but ask our colleagues in the majority if this is an attempt to harass and intimidate a colleague in the opposition,” they stated.

There appears to be a pattern of filing of ethics complaints against senators who do not subscribe to the views of those aligned with the administration, according to the minority senators.

They recalled the case of De Lima when she was still the chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights and spearheaded an investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country.

It was noted that leaders of the House of Representatives filed an ethics complaint against De Lima for advising her former driver Ronnie Dayan not to attend their inquiry into the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison.

De Lima was eventually stripped of her chairmanship of the committee by the Senate majority, most of whom were allied at the time with the administration.

“Now, we have this threat of a case filed against Senator Sonny that came after his line of questioning in the hearing led to linking Paolo Duterte to smuggling in the (Bureau of Customs). Is this ethics case meant to silence the opposition in the Senate and the critics of the administration?” the minority senators said.

“We urge our colleagues in the majority to rethink their position as regards this threat. Even assuming for the sake of argument that this is not the intention of the Senate majority, the result of a decision of either a suspension or dismissal will have the same effect of weakening the opposition in particular and our democracy as a whole where dissent must be respected,” they added.

Trillanes was unfazed by the threat of Gordon and urged him to go ahead and see if he could get the numbers to support his cause.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, who heads the committee on ethics, said that this would be taken up in the caucus of the majority tomorrow.

In an interview over radio dwIZ, Sotto said that the majority senators would hear what Gordon has to say because many of them were not present when the altercation between him and Trillanes took place last Thursday.

For those who were able to monitor the proceedings, Sotto said they were unhappy with what happened.

Sotto said that the matter at hand is not about the difference of opinion of the two senators involved but the unparliamentary conduct of Trillanes.

He admitted that some senators were getting impatient with the way Gordon talks for long periods during hearings, but said there is no crime in being talkative.

If Trillanes or any senator is unhappy with the way a fellow senator is conducting hearings as the chairman of a committee, Sotto advised them to either move to replace the senator as chairman or just not attend the hearings.

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