Senate President Franklin Drilon apparently is safe for now from facing an ethics complaint before the Senate ethics committee in connection with the allegedly anomalous construction of the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC).
The reason is that no such committee exists.
Thus, administration Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th’s statement that Drilon could have a date soon with the ethics committee was unlikely to happen.
According to Trillanes, he still trusts the Senate president but that if evidence showed Drilon committed any wrongdoing, a complaint could be filed against the chamber’s leader before the committee for further sanctions against him.
The Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges is in charge of all matters relating to the conduct, rights, privileges, safety, dignity, integrity and reputation of the Senate and its members.
Drilon is facing plunder charges before the Office of the Ombudsman along with Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. on a complaint filed by former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada Jr. over the allegedly overpriced convention center in Iloilo City.
In his complaint, Mejorada said the respondents conspired to rig the bidding for construction of the ICC.
Drilon had admitted allotting P200 million from his Priority Development Assistance Fund and P100 million from the Disbursement Acceleration Program before the Supreme Court declared the two spending mechanisms unconstitutional.
The Senate blue ribbon committee headed by administration Sen. Teofisto Guingona 3rd is set to conduct a hearing on the allegedly overpriced convention center on November 13.
Earlier, Prof. Roland Simbulan, vice president of the Center for People’s Empowerment and Governance, said the ethics committee is the proper body to look into the possible malfeasance committed by Drilon and the panel could also issue sanctions if warranted.
Last year, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed a complaint against Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile for disorderly behavior in connection with personal attacks made by Enrile in a privileged speech.
In her complaint-letter, Santiago said Enrile violated sections 93 and 94 of the Senate rules.
Section 94 states that no senator under any circumstances shall use offensive or improper language against another senator or against any public institution.
Section 93 states, “Acts and language which offend a senator or any public institution shall be deemed unparliamentary.”
Santiago forwarded her complaint to Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, who also heads the committee on rules, since the chamber is yet to organize the ethics committee.