After complaint, Sotto to take leave of absence from ethics panel
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III will take a leave of absence from the committee on ethics and privileges after a complaint was filed against him.
Sotto, chairman of the ethics committee, said he would immediately file a leave of absence once he gets a copy of the complaint.
"As soon as I receive this officially, that is the first thing I will do. I will inhibit myself," Sotto told reporters in an interview.
The committee's vice chairman, Senator Panfilo Lacson, is expected to take over the proceedings.
For Sotto, the ethics complaint against him may be a "blessing in disguise." His leave of absence, he said, would solve his headaches over the multiple ethics complaints filed against detained Senator Leila de Lima.
"As a matter of fact, it might be another blessing in disguise because then automatically I will inhibit myself, I will take a leave from the committee on ethics, and that will solve my dilemma with Senator De Lima because Senator Lacson will take over. So maganda 'yan (that's good)," Sotto said.
The complainants said the senator must inhibit himself from the case.
As early as now, however, Lacson has expressed reservations on the Senate ethics committee's jurisdiction over an incident that happened in a hearing of the Commission on Appointments, which is a constitutional body.
"I'm not sure kung may jurisdiction ang Senate ethics committee sa actuations ng isang senador, acting as a CA member. Kasi constitutional body 'yung CA," Lacson said.
(I'm not sure if the Senate ethics committee has jurisdiction over the actuations of a senator acting as a CA member because the CA is a constitutional body.)
While Lacson said he does not want to "prejudge" the case that might eventually land on his lap, he also said Sotto's remark could pass as an innocent comment.
"Napaka-common sa pag-uusap natin, pag 'di natin maalala 'yung word, sinu-substitute natin: 'In-ano ko lang naman, kaso na-ano, ayoko naman anuhin. Eh ano'ng gagawin ko? Baka ma-ano pa ako diyan.' Parang gano'n," he said.
(It's so common when we talk that when we don't remember the word, we substitute it with: "In-ano ko lang naman, kaso na-ano, ayoko naman anuhin. Eh ano'ng gagawin ko? Baka ma-ano pa ako diyan." It's like that.)
Critics, however, said Sotto deliberately used the phrase to refer to single mothers. Still, Lacson remains unconvinced.
"Pero 'yung buong context ng kanyang questioning ang tignan natin. Saan ba nanggaling?" he said. (But we should look at the whole context of his questioning. Where was he coming from?)
Sotto and Lacson, known allies, are members of the so-called macho bloc in the Senate, which also includes senators Gregorio Honasan II and Loren Legarda, among others. – Rappler.com