Pimentel apologizes for 'insertion' joke

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 26 2010 09:58 PM | Updated as of Jan 27 2010 06:10 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. on Tuesday apologized for certain off-color comments he made in the previous day's plenary session, including one alluding to Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas II's sex life.

Pimentel asked for his colleagues' forgiveness through a prayer.

"In the heat of the discussion, some of us tend to use words that are coarse and vulgar," he said.

"To those who I might have hurt in this Chamber by the use of intemperate language or unseemly expressions, I apologize and beg their forgiveness through you, Lord," he said.

Legislators on Monday deliberated on a report of the Senate Committee of the Whole regarding Sen. Manuel "Manny" Villar Jr.'s alleged unethical conduct for inserting an additional P200 million allocation in the 2008 national budget for the construction of a road that would benefit his real estate properties.

On Monday's session, Pimentel cracked a joke about Roxas's statements that he and other senators--who are pushing for Villar's censure--are not "ganging up" on Villar.

Roxas denied that they had also included "insertions" in the national budget, to which Pimentel replied: "Well, I am sure that after your marriage, you had some insertions...but that may be different."

Roxas demanded that the comment be stricken off the official transcript of Monday's plenary session.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Pimentel said he saw no need to apologize directly to Roxas for the "insertion" joke because the comment was "not intended for Korina Sanchez (Roxas's wife) or any other woman."

Pimentel added that he has the "highest respect" for Sanchez.

During the deliberations, Pimentel had also chastised Sen. Jamby Madrigal for calling Villar's allies in the Senate as a "choo-choo train of lawyers."

Sexist remark?

Earlier, Akbayan Party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros urged Pimentel to apologize to women for his "insertion" joke. She called the remark "irrelevant."

Hontiveros is running for Senator under Roxas's Liberal Party, with Sen. Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III as standard-bearer.

During a Liberal Party founding anniversary gathering early Tuesday, Roxas said he was hurt by Pimentel's comment, which he said served as an affront to his wife, broadcaster Korina Sanchez.

"Talagang masakit na masakit 'yon. Eh kung kelan pa tumanda, doon pa naging bastos. (It was very hurtful. When he grew old, that's the time that he became rude)," Roxas told reporters.

Roxas added that he was not expecting an apology from Pimentel.

"Wala pa pong apology (si Pimentel) at hindi naman ako nag-eexpect ng kahit ano. Ang sa akin lang ay sa pagtatanggal ko. Misis ko 'yon. Ang kanyang dangal ay inapakan at hindi ako papayag," Roxas said.

(There is no apology from Pimentel and I'm not expecting anything. For me, I had it stricken off the record because he talked about my wife. Her dignity was stepped on and I won't allow that.)

Pimentel apologized late Tuesday afternoon at the resumption of the Senate session.

'Stormy debate'

During his prayer before the session started, Pimentel also asked God to help the Senators resolve the "stormy debate over a controversy" involving Villar.

"Bless all of us and our people so that your grace will lead us to the right path of public discourse that will advance the cause of our people, not our personal agenda," he said.

"And finally, please Lord, allow us to keep our cool throughout the proceedings we are engaged in today so that the truth will [come] out," he added.

The plenary session began with a fiery speech from Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who supported a Senate resolution to dismiss charges against Villar.

Santiago later walked out on the hearing, saying she was tired of the bickering among lawmakers.

Villar is accused of violating the 1987 Constitution for failing to divest himself of controlling shares in real estate firms that earned billions of pesos in taxpayer's money over road right-of-way projects.

Villar, however, told ABS-CBN News anchor Ces Drilon that he has no plans of attending the plenary sessions in which he was expected to present his side. Villar is running for president under the Nacionalista Party.