MANILA, January 18, 2017 (PNA) — A day after nearly trading blows with fellow Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was given the task of investigating the alleged bribery at the Bureau of Immigration (BI) along with Senator Richard Gordon.
Upon the motion of Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, the Senate today unanimously decided to refer the matter to the Senate committee on civil service, government reorganization and professional regulation chaired by Trillanes and to the Senate justice and human rights panel headed by Gordon.
Sotto proposed that Trillanes’ committee deal with the reorganization aspect of the BI and Gordon’s panel deal on the administration side of the bureau.
Sotto said both the primary committees of Trillanes and Gordon may come up with separate committee reports if they wish “each dealing with separate concerns within the bounds of their jurisdictions.”
At the same time, Sotto said the blue ribbon committee cannot be precluded from conducting its own hearing on the contention mentioned in Senate Resolution No. 256 particularly on the issue of graft and corruption.
He said the blue ribbon committee, also chaired by Gordon, is the only committee that can conduct a hearing on its own relative to the act of public officials.
Last Tuesday, Trillanes and Zubiri nearly exchanged blows when the latter reacted to Trillanes’ statement that Zubiri and Gordon wanted to whitewash the Senate inquiry into the BI bribery by blocking the referral of SRN 256 to Trillanes’s panel.
Trillanes reminded Zubiri that he resigned as senator in 2007 due to alleged election cheating, which the latter denied.
Zubiri fired back and reminded his colleagues on the floor that Trillanes was imprisoned for rebellion in 2003.
Senator Manny Pacquiao stepped in and prevented Trillanes and Zubiri from exchanging blows.
The two senators eventually shook hands after Senate President Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III ordered a suspension of the session.
“Hopefully, this will nurture a peaceful atmosphere in the Senate considering that we need to pass a number of legislation before the adjournment of session in March and in order to do that, we need a conducive environment by resolving this issue at the soonest possible time,” Sotto said.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon filed SRN 256 directing the Senate committee on civil service, government reorganization and professional regulation to look into possible reorganization of the BI.
Two BI Associate Commissioners Al C. Argosino and Michael B. Robles have been accused of extorting PHP50 million payoff from Chinese casino mogul Jack Lam.
President Rodrigo Duterte sacked the two BI commissioners, both of whom are his fraternity brothers in San Beda College of Law’s Lex Talionis Fraternitas. (PNA)