Duterte administration

Belmonte: ‘We are hurt’ by JPE’s ruling, language

The Speaker of the House says the prosecutors simply 'have to ride it out.'

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr told reporters on Wednesday, February 22, that he was hurt by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s ruling on Tuesday disallowing Philippine Airlines (PAL) VP for sales Enrique Javier from taking the witness stand. The Speaker said he also did not like how Enrile admonished the prosecutors.

Syempre, masama ang loob ko. No question about it. All of us,” Belmonte said when asked about Enrile’s ruling on the PAL witness. Javier was supposed to testify on the platinum card that PAL gave Chief Justice Renato Corona and his wife. A platinum card entitles a holder to “unlimited courtesy travel.”

Belmonte said he understands that only senators can appeal Enrile’s ruling. “Although I’m unhappy about it, we have to ride it out. Although senators and congressmen are equals, in this particular case, judge ang isa at ikaw naman eh…,” he said.

“We are really hurt by the type of language used on our prosecutors,” Belmonte added. “But we will continue to pursue the case and we’re not going to make a big thing out of it knowing the situation. Sila ang huwes,” he said.

Interparliamentary courtesy?

Majority floor leader Neptali Gonzales II said Enrile’s admonition also hurts the rest of the lawmakers who signed the impeachment complaint. “188 ang pumirma rito. Nadagdagan pa more than 200. Siguro tuwing naririnig mo defective ang ginawa mo, mali yan, e siguro naman magdidiretso ang tampo ng 200 na ito,” he said.

“We are not trying to influence them to vote in our favor. No, that’s far from our mind. We agree to disagree, pero we have to maintain some modicum of respect.  Iyan lang ang aming panawagan. Para na kaming mga hindi congressman nito eh, iyon lang,” added Gonzales.

It’s impossible for the prosecution to know everything when they filed the impeachment complaint, Belmonte said, in response to criticisms that they are conducting a fishing expedition. “Naka-lock sa vault ang SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth). How can we have access to it? Had it been shown in the first place, ang dami palang puwedeng makita,” he said.

“We use the subpoena to proceeed because it is the process that should be observed. Alangan namang nakawin namin (yung documents),” said Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II.

Same in Erap’s trial

Belmonte said the same thing happened in the trial of ousted President Joseph Estrada, where Belmonte was a prosecutor and impeachment manager.

“If we go back to the only precedent, which was the Erap trial, we never heard of that account of former President held under another name. We never heard of it. Nalaman na lang namin because of the hearing. Yet it was a pivotal thing. You cannot know everything at the start. Powerful people din naman ito,” Belmonte said.

If the impeachment complaint was defective, a frustrated Gonzales said, it should have been dismissed from the start. “Nag-aaksaya lang pala tayo ng panahon dito kung may pananaw sila na ganun na ka-defective. Nagmo-Moro-Moro lang pala tayo rito,” he said.

It’s the first time that Belmonte openly spoke about his frustration about the trial. Previously, it was only Gonzales who had been complaining.

Gonzales even threatened that the lawmakers may not be there for the senators when they need them next year. He was obviously referring to the 2013 senatorial elections. A number of the senators are re-electionists. (Enrile is not a re-electionist but his son is rumored to be eyeing the Senate.) – Rappler.com

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