SENATORS Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes 4th on Friday belittled the plan of detained former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon to file an ethics complaint against them next week.
Faeldon is detained at the Senate after the Blue Ribbon Committee cited him in contempt for refusing to cooperate with the investigation on the smuggling of P6.4 billion of shabu (methamphetamine) from China as well as the “tara” (payoff) system at the Bureau of Customs (BoC).
Jose Dino, Faeldon’s lawyer, said his client’s would-be ethics complaint against Lacson has three grounds: first, calumny; second, abuse of his right and privilege as a sitting senator; and third, for serious misconduct.
Faeldon’s complaint has something to do with Lacson’s privilege speech entitled “Kita Kita” last August 23 at the session hall. “Sen. Lacson laid bare the basis or lack of basis of his privilege speech in his opening speech. What did he say? ‘The very loud of whispers across the four halls of Customs.’ So, we knew, pardon the language, it’s garbage. It’s hogwash,” Dino said in a briefing.
In the same privilege speech, Lacson said, “Loud whispers in the four corners of the Bureau of Customs compound tell of a P100 million ‘pasalubong’ to the newly-installed Commissioner [Faeldon], a quarter of which, or P25 million, was retained as finder’s fee by his middleman named Joel Teves.”
“It is the right of anybody to file an ethics complaint against any senator. In fact, that was the advice to him by Sen. [Richard] Gordon when he visited him in his detention place,” Lacson said in reaction to Faeldon’s plan.
The Constitution, however, is clear on the matter, he said. “Thus, [Section 11] Article VI states: A Senator or Member of the House of Representatives shall, in all offenses punishable by not more than six years imprisonment, be privileged from arrest while the Congress is in session. No member shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof.”
“Therefore, it is his right to waste bond paper and ink. Anyway, he has the money to pay his lawyers even if it’s tantamount to an exercise in futility and stupidity,” Lacson said.
Reacting to Faeldon’s plan to file ethics case against him, Trillanes said, “That man seems to not run out of gimmicks. But at the end of the day, he needs to face the Committee and answer our questions.” BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO