Senate minority bloc members have closed ranks behind their colleague, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, amid threat of subjecting him to an ethics proceedings after he engaged in a clash with Sen. Richard Gordon during the blue ribbon committee hearing Thursday.
While they expressed serious concern on the threat of subjecting Trillanes to an ethics proceedings, “we cannot help but ask our colleagues in the majority if this is an attempt to harass and intimidate a colleague in the opposition,” they said.
Gordon is set to file a complaint against Trillanes following a heated exchanges in the middle of their proceedings on the alleged smuggling of shabu from China and alleged corruption in the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
“There appears to be a pattern of filing of ethics complaints against senators who do not subscribe to the views of those aligned with the administration,” Senators Bam Aquino, Leila de Lima, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said in a statement.
They noted similar cases filed against De Lima sometime last year while she was still the chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, another filed at the lower house, before the Senate majority voted to remove her from sitting as chair of the said panel.
“Now we have this threat of a case filed against Sen. Sonny (Trillanes) that came after his line of questioning in the hearing led to linking (Davao City Vice Mayor) Paolo Duterte to smuggling in the BoC. Is this ethics case meant to silence the opposition in the Senate and the critics of the administration?” they asked.
Trillanes claimed that the presidential son is alleged to be engaged in smuggling activities and purported to be part of the so-called Davao Group.
“The Senate minority bloc stands behind Sen. Sonny (Trillanes) in his desire to ferret out the truth and will oppose efforts to stifle dissent and silence the opposition that are essential in a vibrant democracy,” they said.
“We urge our colleagues in the majority to rethink their position as regards this threat. Even assuming for the sake of argument that this is not the intention of the Senate majority, the result of a decision of either a suspension or dismissal will have the same effect of weakening the opposition in particular and our democracy as a whole where dissent must be respected,” they said.
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