Senate panel to tackle ethics rap vs Sotto, et al
MANILA (1st UPDATE) - The Senate committee on ethics and privileges is now preparing to hear an ethics complaint against Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III that will be filed this week, but it will not tackle his plagiarism case only.
The committee's chairman, Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, said on Monday that Sotto's case is just one of several complaints that the committee will hear soon. He did not give details about the other cases.
A group of academicians will file the complaint against Sotto on Tuesday.
"We will not focus on only one case. We have to be fair to everyone," Cayetano told reporters.
Cayetano said several cases have been filed before the committee, but he did not have the time to tackle them because of other concerns this year like the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona.
He has asked his staff to prepare the rules that they will use in the proceedings, and then have them approved by other committee members. Once they are done with it--probably by next week--the first hearing can start the week after.
"Whether or not a particular act constitutes a violation or unethical behavior will have to fall under the definitions," Cayetano said.
Cayetano explained that he and other committee members will first have to agree on which of the cases pending in the committee they will tackle in a full-blown investigation.
He gave assurances that the investigation will be fair, even if it involves a fellow senator.
Cayetano added that the committee will have to find a balance between the ethics cases and other matters that senators have to attend to.
"We have to balance the ethics committee with the schedule of all other hearings. We can't be fighting each other always to the detriment of major bills and of the budget hearings and everything else," he said.
"On the other hand, people need to have faith and confidence in the Senate. Hindi naman puwedeng hindi paganahin ang ethics committee."
Asked if he would issue an apology on the plagiarism issue, Sotto answered, "Huh? For what?"