• Senate ethics panel asks Trillanes to answer Gordon claims of ‘unparliamentary acts’

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    THE Senate ethics committee has asked Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th to answer in 10 working days the complaint filed against him by colleague, Richard Gordon, for unabated “unparliamentary acts” and disorderly behavior that allegedly caused damage to the upper chamber.

    The ethics panel, led by Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd, conducted its first meeting on Monday since the opening of the 17th Congress to tackle the complaints filed against Trillanes, detained Sen. Leila de Lima, and Sotto himself.

    Also present during the hearing were Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, as well as Senators Panfilo Lacson, Gregorio Honasan 2nd, Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th and Risa Hontiveros.

    Sotto said the Rules of the Senate were “clear to state that the Senate has the power to discipline its members and the sole judge on the actions of its members as enshrined in Sec. 16 (3) Art. VI of the Constitution.”

    “The disciplinary authority of the Senate, not the Courts can properly discourage or correct such abuses committed in the name of parliamentary immunity,” the ethics panel head said.

    “Parliamentary immunity must not be allowed to be used as mode to ridicule, demean and destroy the reputation of the Senate and its members, nor as a venue for personal wrath and disgust,” Sotto said.

    Lacson, vice chairman of the ethics committee, took over when the panel discussed the ethics case filed against Sotto by a women’s group for making a demeaning “na ano lang” remark to then social work secretary-designate Judy Taguiwalo during her confirmation hearing at the Commission on Appointments (CA).

    The panel dismissed, for lack of jurisdiction, the ethics complaint against Sotto. The committee ruled that the case should be filed before the CA’s committee on ethics and not before the Senate’s CA.

    The committee ruled that Gordon’s complaint against Trillanes filed on Sept. 4 has “form and substance.” Sotto said after Trillanes filed his counter-affidavit, he would give Gordon five days to respond to Trillanes’ counter-affidavit.

    It also tackled ethics complaints filed against detained Sen. Leila de Lima and Sotto. Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House of Representatives’ justice committee, filed on Dec. 13, 2016 a complaint against de Lima for allegedly preventing her former driver-lover Ronnie Dayan from attending the House investigation on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

    Rep. Harry Roque of Kabayan partylist filed on Feb. 16, 2017 a similar complaint against de Lima while a certain Abelardo de Jesus on Nov. 28, 2016 pressed for her expulsion on the same grounds. An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Saudi Arabia, Ronillo Pulmano, in 2016 also sought the expulsion of de Lima for allegedly committing “treason” when she invited the United Nations to look into the extrajudicial killings (EJKs) of suspected drug dealers in the country.

    The panel deferred deliberation on the de Lima’s cases to study first whether it could ask the court to allow her to attend ethics hearings at the Senate or the committee would instead hold the hearings at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center where she has been detained.

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