Trillanes, Jing Paras face off at Senate

Camille Elemia
Trillanes, Jing Paras face off at Senate
'Ang lakas ng loob mo, kinasu-kasuhan mo ako tapos makikipagkamay ka sa akin?' Senator Antonio Trillanes IV tells Labor Undersecretary Jing Paras

It was the first time they met and sparks sure did fly.

Opposition senator Antonio Trillanes IV and administration supporter Labor Undersecretary Jing Paras faced off at the Senate on Tuesday, May 29.

Paras was at the Senate to attend a hearing on overseas Filipino workers’ affairs, while Trillanes attended the session.

The senator said he approached Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on the floor. He was surprised that Paras was there, wanting to shake his hand.

“Babatiin ko si Secretary Duque at kinamayan ko siya, then suddenly itong si Paras ay gusto akong kamayan. So sinabi ko sa kanya: ‘Ang lakas ng loob mo, kinasu-kasuhan mo ako tapos makikipagkamay ka sa akin?'” Trillanes told reporters.

(I was about to greet Secretary Duque and I shook his hand, then suddenly Paras came up and wanted to shake my hand. So I told him: “You have the gall to shake my hand after suing me?”)

“Tapos later on, ando’n si Senator [Juan Miguel] Zubiri. Sinabi ko sa kanya (Paras), kung ganyan kayo, siguraduhin ‘nyo lang panghabangbuhay na nasa poder ng kapangyarihan si Duterte,” he added.

(Then later on, Senator Zubiri arrived. I told Paras that if they act like that, they better make sure that Duterte will be in power forever.)

Trillanes, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, faces sedition charges stemming from Paras’ complaint over the senator’s privilege speech. In that speech, Trillanes had accused Duterte of amassing ill-gotten wealth.

Last March, following the case against Trillanes, 19 senators filed a resolution calling for protection of Senate speeches. They cited the 1987 Constitution, which states that “no member [of Congress] shall be questioned nor be held liable in any other place for any speech or debate in the Congress or in any committee thereof.”

Trillanes, citing Paras during their meeting, said the labor official responded by saying it was just his job.

“Talagang walang basehan at all…. Tapos akala niya okay lang? Sabi niya trabaho lang daw niya ‘yun. Sabi ko, anong trabaho ‘yan?” Trillanes said.

(The case has no basis at all. And now he thinks it’s just fine? He said he was just doing his job. I told him, what kind of job is that?)

A few hours before the encounter, Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin, also an opposition lawmaker, filed a complaint against Paras for allegedly trying to steal his iPhone X worth P74,000, an accusation that Paras denied.

Prior to being appointed to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Paras was a former lawmaker. He is also a lawyer and a member of the Duterte-allied Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, which is known for filing cases against Duterte critics. (READ: From ‘Gang of Five’ member to VACC lawyer: Who is Jacinto ‘Jing’ Paras?) – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, 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 camille.elemia@rappler.com