MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Wednesday, October 11, criticized the draft Senate blue ribbon committee report that cleared Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and presidential son-in-law Manases Carpio of smuggling allegations.
In the draft report, Senate blue ribbon committee chair Richard Gordon recommends a National Bureau of Investigation lifestyle check on the eldest son of President Rodrigo Duterte and Carpio.
For Trillanes, the initial report is a “clear case of a cover-up” by the administration senator. He earlier accused Gordon of using his committees to absolve President Rodrigo Duterte and his family of crimes, prompting Gordon to file an ethics complaint against him.
Trillanes said drug suspects are killed at once on the streets while Paolo Duterte, who he accused of involvement in smuggling, including the P6.4-billion shabu from China, will only be subjected to a lifestyle check.
“Suspected drug pushers and users are wantonly killed in the streets while the people behind the illegal drug smuggling are merely subjected to a lifestyle check. This is a clear case of a cover-up by Senator Gordon to please his political master,” Trillanes said in a statement on Wednesday, October 11.
“If Senator Gordon is really serious in getting to the bottom of this mess, then he shouldn't terminate the hearing and clear Paolo Duterte of involvement until Nanie Cabato-Coronacion a.k.a. Tita Nanie is located,” he added.
After a series of hearings, the Senate panel has yet to identify the real Tita Nanie. Customs broker and “fixer” Mark Ruben Taguba said it was Tita Nanie who introduced him to the so-called Davao Group for smooth transactions in the Bureau of Customs, and that the group delivered.
Alleged members of the Davao Group are Paolo Duterte, his friend Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr, and a certain “Jack.”
Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said lifestyle checks can be conducted with or without any prompt from officials or agencies.
“Well with or without, puwede naman talaga i-lifestyle check lahat ng public officials. Ewan ko lang kung bagay kay Atty Carpio kasi di siya public official. Sa mga government official, ok lang i-lifestyle check with or without prompt from anyone or any office,” Sotto told reporters in an interview.
(All public officials can be subjected to lifestyle checks. I'm not sure if this can cover Atty Carpio because he's not a public official. For government officials, it's okay to have them subjected tom lifestyle checks with or without prompt from anyone or any office.)
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio lamented what she called the "unreasonable" planned lifestyle check on her husband.
In the same draft report, Gordon recommended the filing of criminal charges against former Customs chief Nicanor Faeldon and 4 others over the P6.4-billion shabu shipment.
He also recommended the filing of charges against Taguba, whom he alleged to be the “central figure” in the BOC corruption scheme.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said the initial findings of Gordon are lacking, especially involving Faeldon, former BOC intelligence chief Neil Estrella, and intelligence officer Joel Pinawin.
Lacson said he has not signed the report and added he will be submitting his insights to Gordon, who supposedly agreed to make the necessary additions.
“I have not signed it. Instead, I’m submitting my comments/observations to the chairman. I expressed my serious reservations on the findings contained in the committee report being routed, particularly in the matter of Faeldon, Estrella and Pinawin. Chairman Gordon said he will make an addendum once he receives my comments,” Lacson said in a text message.
“Kulang (It's lacking), wanting. Findings and recommendations are not consistent with what was discussed, not only during the hearings, but in the committee report itself,” he added.
Sotto said Gordon’s report was just a draft, meaning senators can still introduce amendments.
The draft report will need to be signed by senators and reported to the plenary for deliberations before the chamber can adopt it. Only then can it be considered a Senate report.
“Kung mayroong hinahanap pa ang ibang myembro namin at ibang bumabasa ng committee report, 'wag sila mag-alala, pag-uusapan pa sa plenary yan. Ang mga committee report sa Senate...kailangang i-report out, i-defend, and i-approve, then it becomes a Senate report,” Sotto said.
(If they are looking for more, don't worry, we will still talk about it in plenary. A committee report has to be reported, defended, and approved by the Senate. If approved, then it becomes a Senate report.) – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org