DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A councilor here who was tagged in a Senate probe over a multi-billion-peso illegal drug scandal said he is considering filing an ethics complaint against Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr clarified, however, that filing the said complaint is not among his priorities for now.
He refuses to attend any more Senate hearings on drug smuggling and corruption in the Bureau of Customs (BOC), citing travel costs. The investigation has been politicized by Trillanes anyway, he said.
“No plans? Well, wait and see. Because, first, he’s still a senator, and, second, like [customs fixer Mark] Taguba, they have immunity,” Abellera told reporters at the Sangguniang Panlungsod here on Tuesday, October 3. (READ: Taguba changes tune: Paolo, Mans not part of BOC corruption)
Abellera reported back to office on Tuesday and attended the regular council sessions a week after his colleagues stripped him of chairmanship and membership in all the committees assigned to him.
Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte earlier advised Abellera, his friend, to file a resignation from his committee assignments if he remains unable to report to work.
Abellera said he had to undergo medical check-ups and was advised by his doctor to take a rest for up to for 4 weeks. “It ended last week of September 29,” he said.
Since September 29, he said, the Senate has invited him anew to appear in hearings regarding drug smuggling and corruption in the BOC. He, however, sent the Senate blue ribbon committee a formal communication, asking them a reason why he still has to attend to the future hearings.
He said he couldn’t attend the hearings, however, citing the costs of traveling to Manila.
“I don’t think that a councilor’s stipend would enable us to be there every week. You’ll have to eat, pay for the hotel, and transportation,” he said in Filipino.
He also need to confer with his lawyers, as he said Trillanes is politicizing the hearings.
The councilor was tagged in the Senate probe into the P6.4-billion shabu shipment from China in August. In one of the Senate hearings he admitted to have met a customs broker and “fixer” Mark Taguba, alleged to be a handler of Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte.
Taguba claimed that he paid Abellera and a certain Jack in Davao City an initial P5 million for smooth transactions in the Bureau of Customs. But Abellera denied the accusations, saying these were baseless and malicious. – Rappler.com