Senate minority hits Gordon plan to file ethics case vs Trillanes
MANILA, Philippines – The Senate minority bloc slammed Senator Richard Gordon’s “threat” to file an ethics complaint against opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, saying it was meant to stifle dissent.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, senators Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Leila de Lima, Francis Pangilinan, and Risa Hontiveros said the threat was an “attempt” to “harass” a member of the opposition.
“We view with serious concern the threat of the filing of an ethics case against Senator Sonny Trillanes,” the senators said in a statement issued on Friday, September 1.
“We cannot help but ask our colleagues in the majority if this is an attempt to harrass and intimidate a colleague in the opposition. 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,” they said.
The senators cited the filing of several ethics complaint against De Lima, President Rodrigo Duterte’s fiercest critic. At the time, De Lima was leading the Senate probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings. Shortly after, she was ousted as justice committee chair.
“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 BOC. Is this ethics case meant to silence the opposition in the Senate and the critics of the administration?” they asked.
The senators stood by their colleague, saying they would oppose moves to silence dissent in a democracy.
“The Senate minority bloc stands behind Senator Sonny 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,” they said.
The senators also urged their administration-allied colleagues to “rethink” their position on the ethics complaint.
“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,” the minority bloc said.
On Thursday’s hearing, Gordon and Trillanes locked horns shortly after the latter made a motion to invite presidential son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and son-in-law Maneses Carpio to the next hearing. (READ: 'Committee de absuwelto'? Gordon, Trillanes face off in smuggling probe)
Trillanes accused Gordon of “lawyering” for Paolo Duterte and Carpio, which irked Gordon, who denied he is out to protect the President.
Trillanes also claimed Gordon had a "history" of protecting presidents, citing the latter's chairmanship of the blue ribbon committee under former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, whose administration was hounded by corruption allegations.
In 2016, Gordon led the hearing on extrajudicial killings and concluded that neither the state nor President Duterte sponsored summary executions.
He also cleared Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and Jack Lam of liabilities in the Bureau of Immigration bribery.
Nearly 30 years and numerous ethical complaints since 1986, the Senate has so far censured only two senators: former senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Heherson Alvarez. – Rappler.com