Ejercito wants ethics probe vs Trillanes for calling senators 'puppets'
MANILA, Philippines – An administration senator wants an ethics probe into minority Senator Antonio Trillanes IV's statement calling the Senate a "puppet" of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito on Tuesday, July 4, said the Senate committee on ethics and privileges should investigate Trillanes, one of Duterte's fiercest critics, for "damaging" the institution.
"Maybe it is high time that we refer to the Senate ethics committee Senator Trillanes' actions since he is becoming damaging to the institution and becoming destructive to the country," Ejercito said in a text message.
For Ejercito, Trillanes' statement is "disrespectful and unparliamentary," since the 23 senators have "independent minds."
"I find the recent statements of Senator Trillanes disrespectful and unparliamentary. He should be reminded that as a democratic institution, we, in the Senate debate issues instead of hurling insults; we vote instead of calling each other names when we disagree," Ejercito said.
"We have 23 independent minds duly elected in the Senate. But even when we disagree on a number of issues, we maintain our respect for one another. I hope Senator Trillanes would do the same. I hope he will stop destroying this democratic institution simply because he is rabidly against this administration."
Despite this, Ejercito is not keen on filing the complaint against his colleague.
"Will consult my colleagues on this matter. It is really difficult to do this against a colleague. Even with Senator De Lima, I sympathized. Senators need to respect their colleagues," he said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson also earlier slammed Trillanes, saying the latter was "hallucinating" when he called the Senate a "coward" and a "puppet" of the administration.
Trillanes said he would welcome any ethics complaint against him.
He then turned the tables on Ejercito and questioned his supposed double standard on issues involving the administration.
"I would welcome any ethics complaint filed against me in the Senate. But here's the thing, if Senator Ejercito believes that my statement that the Senate is becoming a lapdog of the Duterte administration is highly offensive yet sees nothing wrong with Duterte's rape comments to the soldiers, then we really have a problem," Trillanes said, referring to the President's rape joke as he rallied troops to win the war against terrorists in Mindanao under martial law.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, chair of the ethics panel, said the committee is allowed to initiate a probe but he would rather do it upon a formal complaint.
"Motu propio is possible but it's better if I receive a complaint. Hard to judge through media reports. I will entertain any complaint against any member of the Senate," Sotto said.
Asked for comment on Trillanes' statement, Sotto warned his colleague to be careful with his words.
"I do not know his reason for saying that. He should be careful in calling us names. Hindi ko siya papatulan sa ngayon, pero ipapaalala ko lang (I'll ignore him for now, but I just want to remind him), when you point a finger at others, 3 fingers point at you," Sotto said.
Senator Leila de Lima, another Duterte critic, is facing two ethics complaints before the committee. The panel, however, has yet to resolve these. (READ: Only 2 senators reprimanded by Senate in 30 years) – Rappler.com