A heated exchange transpired between Senators Antonio Trillanes 4th and Juan Miguel Zubiri during the plenary session Tuesday when Trillanes alleged that Zubiri and Sen. Richard Gordon are trying to “whitewash” the proposed senate investigation into the bribery scandal involving two immigration officials.
Trillanes, in a television interview Tuesday, claimed that there were efforts to prevent the passage of a resolution calling for a reorganization of the Bureau of Immigration in connection with the P50 million bribery scandal that also dragged the name of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd. The resolution was to be referred to the committee on civil service and government reorganization, which he currently heads.
“Now that they (Zubiri and Gordon) will be the ones to handle the hearing, they can whitewash the investigation like what happened to the senate inquiry on extrajudicial killings recently,” Trillanes said.
During the session, Zubiri took the floor to deny the allegation and denounced Trillanes for making such claims against his colleagues in the Senate.
He noted that in his nine years as a member of the House of Representatives and four years in the Senate, he was never accused of “whitewashing,” “stonewalling” or “stopping” any investigation.
“I don’t care. If they want to investigate, investigate. If they want to raise hell in their committee, I don’t care. My intention was just to discuss rules,” Zubiri said.
During Monday’s session, Zubiri questioned the referral of the resolution filed by Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon to Trillanes’ committee when it should have been referred to the committee on justice and human rights chaired by Gordon.
“I will never be a part of any whitewash. I take offense on that Mr. President,” Zubiri said.
After Zubiri’s speech, Trillanes took the floor and stood by his allegation against the senators saying: “I’m glad that the gentleman took offense because in fact, the statement is meant to be offensive. So at least he feels something.”
Trillanes also took issue with Zubiri’s statement that he has never been accused of any impropriety and brought up the 2007 election cheating issue and said: “He, in fact resigned from the Senate because he was proven to have cheated during the 2007 elections.”
Trillanes then told Zubiri that if he wants to declare war they he should be prepared for war.
Zubiri then retorted: “I did not become a world champion of arnis for nothing.”
After the heated exchanges, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, who was presiding at the session, moved for a suspension to ease the tension between the two senators.
When the session resumed Zubiri and Trillanes shook hands.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd then moved that all hurtful statements between the two senators be stricken off the record.