MANILA –Senators Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV and Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri had a heated exchange in the Senate after the former called the latter a “cheater” during a plenary session on Tuesday.
Trillanes accused Zubiri and Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon of trying to “whitewash” the proposed Senate probe into the alleged bribery attempt by Chinese businessman Jack Lam to some officials of the Bureau of Immigration.
These BI officials also happened to be fraternity brothers of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.
Zubiri insisted that the inquiry should be conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Gordon.
A resolution earlier filed by Senate Pres. Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon referred the inquiry to be moved to the Senate Committee on Civil Service Government Reorganization and Professional Regulation chaired by Trillanes.
In a 14-7 vote on Monday, however, the Senate voted to remove the resolution to probe the BI scandal from Trillanes’ committee.
Zubiri took offense to Trillanes’ whitewashing comment and Trillanes responded by saying that his remark was “meant to be offensive.”
Zubiri finally lost his nerve when Trillanes called him a “cheater” referring to a poll fraud allegation that led him to resign as Senator in 2011.
He meanwhile shot back by pointing out that Trillanes was also accused of “rebellion and treason” referring to the 2003 Oakwood mutiny which Trillanes led.
The clash between the two senators, which almost got physical, prompted their colleagues –including boxer-senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao –to come between them.
After almost an hour-long suspension to allow both senators to cool down, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III moved to strike off the record of the heated exchange except the line where Zubiri said he had “nothing to do with any whitewash”.
Zubiri said that he and Trillanes, during the suspension, agreed that he was not part of any whitewash and also agreed to an investigation. The two senators later shook hands.