MANILA - The Senate ethics committee Monday agreed to proceed with the complaint against Sen. Antonio Trillanes, with its chairman warning offensive language uttered even in media was covered by strict parliamentary rules.
Trillanes has 10 days to respond to the complaint filed by Sen. Richard Gordon, who claimed his colleague had “maligned” the blue ribbon committee during a heated exchange last Aug. 31.
Trillanes had complained the committee chaired by Gordon was trying to “absolve” Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law, lawyer Manases Carpio, in the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu.
The ethics committee found Gordon’s complaint "sufficient in form and substance," and will later decide “what constitutes unparliamentary acts and language.”
Senate rules refer to those which “offend a senator or any public institution.”
“Kaya naman dapat maingat kami. Dapat naman talaga wag kung nakaka-offend,” Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, committee chairman, told reporters.
(That's why we should always be careful. We should not be offensive.)
“Parliamentary immunity must not be used as a mode to ridicule, demean and destroy the reputation of the Senate and its members nor as avenue for personal wrath and disgust,” he said during the hearing.
Sotto cited the rule barring legislators from using such language against a fellow senator or public institution “under any circumstances.”
Sotto said Gordon could include such pronouncements by Trillanes in a supplemental complaint.
Trillanes, who earlier dismissed Gordon’s complaint as "just an ego problem," need not reply to the portion of the complaint citing his participation in the failed coups in 2003 and 2007 for which he had been granted amnesty, the committee ruled.
"We will try to settle the issue as soon as possible so that it is not a sword of Damocles hanging over the Senate as an institution," Sotto said, adding the committee could resolve the matter in two months.
COMPLAINT VS SOTTO DISMISSED
The ethics committee deferred decision on whether to hold hearings on a separate complaint against Sen. Leila De Lima in the Senate or in her detention facility.
De Lima is facing drug trafficking charges.
The complaint wants De Lima removed for allegedly trying to stop her former boyfriend and bodyguard from testifying in a congressional hearing into the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
The committee dismissed for lack of jurisdiction a separate complaint against Sotto for his alleged offensive remarks against then Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo during a Commission on Appointments hearing.
Sotto was criticized for using the street lingo “na-ano” to describe the situation of Taguiwalo, a single mother.
The committee said the complaint should have been filed before the CA.