Trillanes to Jinggoy: Name senators, stop ‘blind item’
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said Senator Jinggoy Estrada should just name the other senators pork barrel scam bagman Ruby Tuason supposedly approached, instead of dropping “blind items.”
A day after Estrada said Tuason “peddled” pork barrel deals to other senators, Trillanes said naming names is better than “threatening” their colleagues.
“Sa akin, sana sinabi niya doon sa floor. Nobody was stopping him. Para kasi tayong nagba-blind item dito eh …. Parang mag-threaten ka, nile-leverage mo against somebody. Might as well come out in the open if you have something to say,” Trillanes told reporters on Wednesday, February 19.
(He should have just named names on the Senate floor. It’s like we have a blind item here. It’s as if he is threatening somebody or leveraging it against somebody.)
Trillanes said another option is for Estrada to file a resolution and call for an investigation into the other senators Tuason supposedly dealt with. Trillanes is a fierce critic of Estrada’s mentor, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile.
“He will be the main resource person in that resolution. To spare everybody this exercise, sabihin mo na doon, [o] mag-privilege speech ka. Sana ganoon na lang. “ (Say it there or deliver a privilege speech. That’s a better way.)
Responding to Trillanes' statement, Estrada told reporters on Wednesday, "Hindi ko karakter mandamay ng ibang senador eh." (It's not my character to drag other senators into issues.)
Trillanes said he was not aware who the other senators are, adding that he just based his knowledge of the players in the scam on the testimony and ledger of principal whistleblower Benhur Luy.
Asked if Tuason also approached him in 2008, he said, “My office then was in Camp Crame until late 2010 so I never had the chance to meet her.”
The coup plotter-turned-senator was referring to the time he spent in detention over rebellion charges during the Arroyo administration. His political ally President Benigno Aquino III granted him amnesty in December 2010.
On Tuesday, Estrada got into a heated exchange with Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Chairman Teofisto “TG” Guingona III on the Senate floor.
Estrada accused Guingona of prejudging the committee probe into the scam when he said that Tuason’s testimony was a “3-point, buzzer-beater shot” even before the socialite could testify in the Senate hearing last Thursday.
Tuason testified that she personally gave bags of cash to Estrada and lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, supposedly representing the kickbacks for Enrile.
Estrada, Enrile, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr and Tuason face a plunder complaint for allegedly conspiring with scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles to siphon off pork barrel funds to Napoles’ fake non-governmental organizations. The scam players supposedly divided the spoils: millions of pesos in kickbacks.
‘We allowed Jinggoy to let off steam’
Senators said that during the hourlong break after the word war on Tuesday, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto of the majority and Senators Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Gregorio Honasan II of the minority talked to their two colleagues at the executive lounge to resolve the feud.
Sotto told Rappler, “We allowed Senator Jinggoy to let off steam.”
Trillanes said Estrada and Guingona were later left to talk on their own.
Drilon said he “talked thoroughly” with Estrada and Guingona.
“Sinabi ko naman ay, ‘Siguro nailabas na natin ang lahat ng sama ng loob. Baka naman tama na siguro iyan.’ Ang tinitingnan naman ng taumbayan ay ang ginagawa ng Senado po para sa kapakanan ng taumbayan,” Drilon said in an interview on radio DZRH.
(I told them, ‘Maybe you have aired all your sentiments. Maybe that’s enough.’ The people are looking at what the Senate is doing for them.)
Drilon said the Senate chose to spend an hour to resolve the issue instead of allowing the dispute to drag on and consume the chamber’s time for legislation. The word war delayed by an hour the deliberation of the committee amendments of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
“You know in a collegial body, we need to have understanding because if not, we will not be able to do any work. We explained this to them that we have duties and responsibilities to our countrymen, and we need to show them we are responding to this,” Drilon said.
“It’s better we used an hour to have cooler heads prevail instead of letting it be and for a week, and there will be no understanding in the Senate. That’s much more difficult.”
‘Guingona remark not stand of committee'
Members of the blue ribbon committee did not find anything wrong with Guingona’s “3-point shot” comment, saying he was just expressing his opinion.
“It does not mean that is the opinion of the whole committee and he is not imposing his decision or opinion on the members. So for me, it’s his right to say what he wants for as long as he can defend it,” Senator Francis Escudero said on Tuesday.
The senator added that the committee report will need the signature, vote and support of the members.
For Trillanes, Guingona and Estrada were just coming from different perspectives.
“In the context of Senator TG Guingona, he’s looking at it as a presiding officer and he saw how everything was built up until this witness who said she directly gave money to a senator. So in that context, that’s a 3-point shot to him,” he said.
“But apparently for Senator Jinggoy, being the subject of these hearings, he was somewhat sensitive to the words uttered, questions raised so that’s where he was coming from,” Trillanes added. – Rappler.com