MANILA – The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and administration senators requested for a Senate investigation of the alleged involvement of Senate President Franklin Drilon in the overpricing of the P700-million Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) project.
Senators Vicente Sotto III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino Pimentel are all looking into the allegations.
According to Trillanes, he believes that a Senate probe may be done in the same manner that the Senate approved the Blue Ribbon subcommittee that is now investigating the overpricing of the Makati City Building 2 and the alleged involvement of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“Being a partymate of the Senate President, Sen. Teofisto Guingona can also form a subcommittee to conduct a hearing,” said Trillanes.
Both Drilon and Guingona are from the Liberal Party, while UNA is the Vice President’s political party.
Earlier, Sen. Francis Escudero said that the Blue Ribbon committee should take into consideration the building of a similar group to look into the ICC in the same manner that the Makati building is being investigated. He added that opposition Senators Nancy Binay and JV Ejercito may initiate the resolution filing.
According to Pimentel, an inquiry of the ICC may be done as long as there is proper process.
When asked whether Drilon may be allowed to answer the allegations, Trillanes said that it will depend on the Senate President if he wants to appear before the Senate.
“It should depend on the flow of the investigation. But first things first, a senator must file a resolution as basis for that investigation,” he explained.
On the other hand, UNA interim president Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said that they are wondering whether or not Drillon’s allies will act swiftly on the allegations as they did when they probed former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr.
“We are also interested whether Senator Drilon’s supporters will show the same rapid and aggressive stance in ferreting out the ‘the truth.’ Will they conduct marathon public hearings as well as call the businessmen and contractors involved; make an ocular inspection together with media; and invite Drilon’s immediate family, as well as garnish his bank accounts?” said Tiangco.
He added, “We are hoping that they will do these, in the spirit of fairness, as well as getting justice served.”
Drilon, together with Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, has been charged with plunder in the Office of the Ombudsman in relation with the construction of the ICC.
“We urge Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales; Justice Secretary Leila de Lima; Bureau of Internal Revenue Commissioner Kim Henares; Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Aquilino Pimentel III; the Commission on Audit; and the Anti-Money Laundering Council to lift a finger to investigate these allegations against the Senate President,” Tiangco said.