Tolentino resigns from Blue Ribbon committee

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Tolentino resigns from Blue Ribbon committee
File photo shows Sen. Francis Tolentino.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, file

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis Tolentino yesterday said he resigned from his post as chairman of the Blue Ribbon committee to honor his agreement with the Senate leadership that he would be serving in the panel for only one and a half years.

At a press conference, Tolentino added that he made the same agreement as a member of the Commission on Appointments.

“In fulfillment of a sacred commitment to serve as Blue Ribbon committee chairman and member of the Commission on Appointments for a concise term of one and a half years, I find it both a duty and an honor to uphold the essence of a prior agreement,” he said.

“This decision is rooted in a deep-seated belief that public office demands fidelity to pledges made,” he added.

In addition to his plan to campaign for his reelection bid in 2025, Tolentino noted that he relinquished the post to focus on his other duty as chair of the Senate special committee on maritime and admiralty zones.

The new special committee, he said, was made all the more important due to the escalating maritime conflict in the West Philippine Sea, such as the China Coast Guard’s use of water cannons and dangerous maneuvers against Philippine resupply ships to Panatag and Ayungin Shoals.

“An additional reason is my desire to fortify and solidify our claims pursuant to the 2016 Arbitral Ruling. This special maritime committee is important for our fisherfolk as well as for our national security,” he added.

Tolentino promised to pass a new maritime zones law as well as an archipelagic sea lanes law as chair of that committee.

Despite letting go of his Blue Ribbon committee post, Tolentino said the committee on accountability of public officers – tasked to investigate “malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance” in government – has investigated the sugar importation mess, the Department of Education’s overpriced laptop deal, the vaccine procurement nondisclosure agreements and ghost irrigation projects. 

He denied claims that he resigned due to superstition that the previous chairs of the powerful committee – TG Guingona and Richard Gordon – failed in their reelection bids.

He cited as an exception the late former senator Joker Arroyo, who chaired the committee but won his reelection bid in 2007.

Tolentino said the next panel chair should “recognize that the duty of the Blue Ribbon is above everything else, whoever it is against.”

Among those eyed to replace Tolentino in the committee are Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Sonny Angara and Francis Escudero. 

Cayetano was chair of the Blue Ribbon committee during the Arroyo administration, during which he investigated the anomalous national broadband network deal with ZTE and the fertilizer fund scam, among others.

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