* Privilege Speech by Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson delivered April 27, 2008 *
This will be a short privilege speech. At the outset I would like to thank the minority leader for yielding the floor to this representation and likewise to the lady senator from Antique.
Mr. President, I stand on a matter of personal and collective privilege. Last Monday, 20 April 2009, this representation took the floor to clarify certain misleading statements made by some of our colleagues at the minority bloc in connection with the ethics complaint against a member of this chamber. Thereafter the gentleman from Las Piñas stood on the floor of this Senate, ostensibly to respond to my privilege speech delivered last Monday.
Sa kanyang talumpati, Ginoong Pangulo, kasama sa maraming binanggit ni Senador Manuel Villar Jr. ang mga sumusunod and I quote: ‘I was accused on this floor. I will answer it here on this floor, hindi po doon sa kangaroo court ng ethics committee headed by no less than one of my accusers and the members of which are all presidentiables.’
Sa pangalawang pagkakataon sa kanyang talumpati noong Lunes, sinabi rin niya ang sumusunod: ‘Mahaba pa po Ginoong Pangulo ang aking gustong sabihin. Subali’t ang issue po ngayon ay ang ethics committee. Ang C5 sasagutin ko yan. Hindi ako natatakot pero hindi po sa ethics committee, dito sa floor.’ Upang maiwasang ibahin na naman ng ilan nating mga kasamahan dito sa Senado ang mga binitiwang pananalita ni Sen. Villar, minabuti ko bigkasin ang bawa’t kataga, walang dagdag, walang bawas at naaayon sa journal and transcript of records ng Senado.
Mr. President, for the record, the ethics committee is not a kangaroo court. In fact, it has not constituted itself as a body to exercise its adjudication functions. And I am not the accuser. The senator from Bicol region and Pampanga, Jamby Madrigal, is the complainant and therefore his accuser.
My privilege speech last Sept. 15, 2008 regarding the issue of double insertion in the 2008 national budget is not even part of the complaint filed by the lady senator from Bicol. The complaint is about allegations of conflict of interest and improper conduct committed by Sen. Villar in realigning the road right of way for his own benefit and self-interest.
Dahil sa Senado, Ginoong Pangulo, naiparating sa sambayanan ang mga masasamang gawain ng isang itago na lang natin sa pangalang Jose Pidal at ang malawakang illegal gambling katulad ng jueteng na talamak sa buong bansa.
Dahil sa Senado napalitaw sa sambayanan ang katakot-takot na corruption sa iba’t ibang sangay ng ehekutibo, particular dito ang gahiganteng tongpats sa NBN ZTE deal, ang pagkakagamit ng pondo ng bayan sa mga pekeng fertilizer sa pagpapalakad ni Undersecretary Jocjoc Bolante, maging ang nakakahiyang pagka-blacklist ng World Bank mismo sa ilang mga kontratista na nagnenegosyo sa ating pamahalaan.
Hindi naman siguro maganda Ginoong Pangulo sa pananaw ng bayan at lalong hindi makatarungan kung tayo ay nag-iimbestiga at pumupuna sa kamalian ng ibang sangay ng pamahalaan nguni’t mananahimik na lamang tayo kung isa sa atin ay naparatangan ng kamalian.
Kaya may committee on ethics and privileges ang Senado, at maging ang Mababang Kapulungan meron ding kaukulang komiteng tulad nito.
Ginoong Pangulo ang katotohanan ay dapat lumitaw. Ito ang batayan ng katarungan. But Mr. President, the gentleman from Las Piñas refuses to recognize the ethics committee as constituted by this Senate. And by his own statements made on the floor of this Senate last Monday, April 20, 2009, he repeatedly vowed that he would answer Senator Madrigal’s accusations not before the ethics committee but on the floor of the Senate.
Ginoong Pangulo, upang mabigyan ng karapat-dapat na proteksyon at integridad ang Senado bilang institusyon na kinabibilangan ng bawa’t isa sa atin at kinikilala ng sambayanang Pilipino bilang sandigan ng katotohanan at katarungan at ayon na rin sa ginawang pakikipagugnayan sa mga regular na kaanib ng ethics committee na nagbigay ng kanilang pahintulot sa akin, ay nais ko pong hilingin na ipaubaya natin sa Committee of the Whole ang pag-alam ng katotohanan tungkol sa kasong sinampa ni Senadora Jamby Madrigal laban kay Senador Manuel Villar Jr.
Lest this move be misinterpreted to mean otherwise, this representation as chair and all the regular members of the committee on ethics and privileges are not, I repeat, are not abandoning our sworn duty entrusted to us by our peers. Neither is it to accept the accusation by some of our peers that we in the Senate ethics committee cannot act with fairness, probity and impartiality. We have, I repeat, acted with utmost respect for due process and according to the tenets of fairness especially upon a peer in this august body.
But so as to strengthen the institution that is the Senate, and to protect it from unwarranted assaults upon its collective integrity, I therefore move Mr. President that the responsibility of the ethics committee pertinent to the case filed by Sen. Jamby Madrigal against Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. be henceforth undertaken by all of us in the Senate acting as a Committee of the Whole.
I also move that the Senate President be the presiding officer of the Committee of the Whole and that the proceedings be in accordance with the rules of the committee on ethics and privileges as published in the Official Gazette last March 23, 2009.
I so move, Mr. President.