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House panel to deliberate on Espino, Villafuerte suspensions

MANILA, Philippines – The House Committee on Rules is set to discuss what actions to take over the 90-day suspension orders against Pangasinan 5th District Representative Amado Espino Jr and Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund Villafuerte. 

This was agreed upon during an-all members caucus among congressmen on Tuesday evening, September 13. 

We referred to the Committee on Rules and bahala na ang Committee on Rules… Antayin na lang ‘yung Committee on Rules kung ano ‘yung pag-usapan. Kailangan eh. Palagay ko ‘yun ang nararapat dahil palagay ko hindi naman puwedeng ‘di natin bigyan ‘yan ng consideration doon sa Committee on Rules,” Speaker Pantaloen Alvarez told reporters at the end of the caucus. 

(We referred it to the Committee on Rules and it is up to them… Let’s wait what they’ll talk about. It is needed. I think the Committee on Rules should consider it.)

The anti-graft court Sandiganbayan recently ordered Espino’s suspension for allegedly allowing illegal black sand mining operations in Pangasinan in 2011, back when he was still governor. 

Villafuerte, meanwhile, faces graft charges for supposedly allowing the payment for petroleum products to Naga Fuel Express Zone without proper bidding when he was still governor.  

According to Alvarez, the two congressmen did not appeal for their colleagues’ support during the caucus. 

Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, Committee on Rules chairperson, did not specify how the 36 committee members would handle the issue. 

“Anything. They can refer it to the Committee on Ethics. They could refer it to the plenary and include it in the order of business para pagbotohan (so the congressmen can vote on it). Or the committee might say we have to implement, so depende sa committee (so it depends on the committee),” Fariñas said. 

He added, however, that the historical practice of the House is not to implement suspension orders issued against congressmen over cases involving their previous positions. 

Still, Alvarez gave assurances that the House of Representatives would uphold the law when they make the decision.

Depende kung ano 'yung nararapat, kung ano ‘yung legal, ‘yun ang susundan natin (We’re going to follow what is right and legal),” he said. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the Senate and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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