MANILA (UPDATE) – Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Antonio Trillanes IV on Tuesday nearly traded blows at the session hall of the Senate.
The tiff between the two stemmed from Zubiri’s move yesterday questioning why a committee chaired by Trillanes should lead a probe into the possible reorganization of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) in the wake of the Jack Lam bribery scandal.
This led the feisty Trillanes to allege in media interviews that Zubiri and Senator Richard Gordon are out to “whitewash” the investigation.
At the session hall on Tuesday, Zubiri delivered a privilege speech assailing Trillanes for alleging that he is out to whitewash the probe.
Trillanes, however, did not back down and took the floor, this time bringing up the 2007 senatorial race where Zubiri won due to alleged cheating.
Trillanes’ allegation of a whitewash and his “cheater” tag hit Zubiri’s nerves. This prompted a confrontation between Zubiri and Trillanes that could have erupted into something physical had their fellow senators not intervened.
Zubiri defended himself from Trillanes’ “cheater” tag, saying he did not cheat to win the 2007 senatorial election but that other people cheated for him.
Zubiri eventually resigned in 2011, paving the way for 13th placer Aquilino Pimentel III’s entry into the Senate.
After the heated exchange between Zubiri and Trillanes, Senate President Pimentel called for a suspension of the session and the senators proceeded to the Senate lounge for a closed-door meeting.
After an hour, Zubiri and Trillanes shook hands to end their spat.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III moved that the "unpleasant" words uttered by Zubiri and Trillanes be stricken off the Senate record.
Drilon’s resolution was initially referred to Trillanes’ committee on civil service and government reorganization.
Zubiri and Gordon, however, said on Monday that the latter’s Blue Ribbon Committee and Committee on Justice and Human Rights are the more appropriate committees to tackle the issue.
Facing a deadlock, the Senate yesterday voted 14-7 favoring Sotto’s motion to reconsider the referral of Drilon’s resolution to Trillanes’ Committee.
Following the vote, Sotto moved to refer the resolution to the Committee on Rules. – report from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News