Pimentel, Gordon say Trillanes free to do what he wants
MANILA (UPDATED) - Opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV on Thursday vowed to "work hard" in ousting Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III should the majority bloc keep Sen. Richard Gordon as Senate Blue Ribbon committee chair.
Amid his ongoing tiff with Gordon, the vocal administration critic said the latter's handling of the powerful committee, which undertakes high-profile legislative investigations, has affected the Senate's independence.
"Ang Senate apektado na ang independence and nagre-reflect 'yan sa committee ni Senator Gordon," Trillanes told Senate reporters during a weekly press briefing.
"I’m not asking for any committee chairmanship. Ang hinihingi ko lang, pag nagi-imbestiga ang Senado, dapat hindi pinipigilan, dapat kinakalkal palalim hanggang sa wala nang makita. 'Di yung ina-abswelto o pino-protektahan,” Trillanes said.
It was an apparent reference to recent hearings on drug smuggling and corruption at the Bureau of Customs, where Trillanes and Gordon had sparred over inviting President Rodrigo Duterte's eldest son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and son-in-law Manases Carpio after they were linked to illegal activities.
Duterte and Carpio eventually appeared at the Senate and denied involvement in criminal activities.
Gordon meanwhile cited Trillanes in contempt and filed an ethics case against the fierce opposition lawmaker, saying he had "continuous, unabated, unparliamentary acts, language and conduct" at the Senate hearing which "is causing damage to the Senate and to the people."
In Thursday's media forum, Trillanes said Blue Ribbon committee members have an "obvious discontentment" over the way Gordon handles committee hearings.
This could be seen, he said, with the low attendance of Senators in Gordon's hearings. Some senators would attend but would not bother to stay long, he said.
Trillanes said he blames the "very passive" Pimentel for allowing Gordon to somewhat lawyer for several parties, instead of getting to the bottom of the case.
"I believe helpless siya (Pimentel) dito kay Senator Gordon kasi feeling niya (Gordon) big shot siya sa senado. But malapit nang malagay sa lugar niya 'yan,” Trillanes said.
The former rebel soldier said he would "soon" file an ethics complaint and plunder charges against Gordon for his alleged corrupt practices as head of the Philippine Red Cross.
Asked to comment, Gordon said Trillanes' rants and accusations against him and the Senate President are "not his problem."
"He keeps threatening. Let him do his worst, I’m ready to answer," Gordon told reporters.
Gordon had earlier said he wanted Trillanes expelled from the Senate.
"I don’t think he belongs in the Senate. His behavior is really out of line. You don’t call people names. You don’t insult your teammates," Gordon said in an interview on ANC's Headstart.
Pimentel meanwhile said he does not intend to stop Trillanes from his ouster plot.
"He can go ahead with his plans. This is a free country," Pimentel said.
Meanwhile, members of the Senate majority said they have no plans to back Trillanes' move to unseat Pimentel.