MANILA — The Senate minority bloc on Friday expressed concern over the threat of majority bloc Senator Richard Gordon to file an ethics complaint against one of its members, Senator Antonio Trillanes, after insisting to invite presidential son and Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law, lawyer Manases Carpio, to the Senate hearing into the PHP6.4-billion shabu shipment from China.
“We view with serious concern the threat of the filing of an ethics case against Senator Sonny Trillanes arising from the incidents that transpired in yesterday’s Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the PHP6.5-billion BOC (Bureau of Customs) shabu smuggling case,” the Senate minority said in a statement.
“The Senate minority bloc stands behind Senator Sonny in his desire to ferret out the truth and will oppose efforts to stifle dissent and silence the opposition that is essential to a vibrant democracy,” the bloc further said.
The Senate minority said that it could not help ask the majority bloc if the ethics complaint versus Trillanes was an attempt “to harass and intimidate a colleague in the opposition.”
“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,” the minority bloc said.
“Is this ethics case meant to silence the opposition in the Senate and the critics of the administration?” it further said.
Last year, congressmen filed an ethics complaint versus now detained Senator Leila de Lima, then chair of the Senate Committee on Justice, while the majority voted to remove her as chair.
The minority bloc, meanwhile, asked the majority to rethink their position as regards to the threat.
It further stressed that dissent must be “respected.”
On Thursday, Gordon and Trillanes argued after the latter insisted that there was enough evidence to warrant the committee to invite Duterte and Carpio after Customs broker, fixer and witness Mark Taguba linked them both into the illegal shipment.
Gordon thought otherwise, describing Taguba’s testimony as “hearsay.”
On Friday, Taguba apologized to Duterte and Carpio for linking them into the illegal shipment.
In a statement from his lawyer, Raymond Fortun, Taguba said that he never testified or will ever testify that Duterte and Carpio were involved in the shipment of illegal drugs to the Philippines or that they were involved in the “Tara System” (bribery) at the bureau.
“I am making this statement to clear Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Manse Carpio from any involvement in the shipment of illegal drugs into the country and any anomalies in the Bureau of Customs,” Taguba said in his statement.
“I also hereby apologize to Vice Mayor Duterte, Atty. Carpio and the first family for the proliferation of fake news arising out of my testimony at the Senate yesterday (Thursday),” he added.