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Trillanes dares Gordon: Go ahead, file your case

By: - Reporter / @mj_uyINQ
/ 07:30 AM September 02, 2017

WORD WAR Senators Richard Gordon and Antonio Trillanes IV are pacified after their verbal exchange by Sen. Vicente Sotto III. —RICHARD A. REYES

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV has dared Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate blue ribbon committee, to make good on his threat to file an ethics case against him. Gordon on Friday said he would.

A verbal clash erupted between the two senators during Thursday’s hearing on the entry of P6.4 billion worth of “shabu” (crystal meth) into the country and the alleged involvement of the “Davao Group” in smuggling.

“Go ahead. I am not scared of President Duterte, much less of him or an ethics case. He is just wasting his time scaring me so he should just do it and see how it will pan out,” Trillanes told reporters late on Thursday.

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Gordon said on Friday he would file the ethics complaint, adding that it was not the first time that Trillanes had shown acts and used language that were offensive to a fellow senator and the Senate itself.

“He has done that consistently. I already forgave him the first time … but he’s getting used to being forgiven and that can’t be,” Gordon said.

Trillanes said many senators were “disgruntled” about  Gordon’s handling of his committee’s investigation on the shabu shipment that slipped through the Bureau of Customs (BOC) in May.

“He’ll be lucky if he gets three to four signatures. If he believes the majority will sign [the complaint], then he has lost touch with the pulse of the senators,” Trillanes added.

The verbal skirmish began when Trillanes called the blue ribbon committee a “comité de absuelto” (committee of exoneration) after Gordon rebuffed his motion to summon the President’s son, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and son-in-law Manases Carpio.

Trillanes said Gordon appeared to divert the course of the investigation whenever the name of the president’s son cropped up.

A BOC fixer, Mark Taguba, who is under investigation for helping facilitate the shabu shipment, had testified that he gave a total of P8 million to the Davao Group, which allegedly included the President’s son and son-in-law, in exchange for the free movement of his cargos.

Taguba on Friday issued a statement clearing the two men of involvement in the shabu smuggling and corruption in the BOC.

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Trillanes urged the committee to invite Paolo Duterte and Carpio, saying that it had enough basis to summon them. Gordon refused.

Trillanes told reporters that Gordon had a “historical track record” of using his committee to clear whoever he wanted to clear.

He referred to past investigations, such as those involving ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and the case of former immigration officials Al Argosino and Michael Robles, who were accused of receiving bribes from casino operator Jack Lam.

Trillanes said Gordon also abruptly terminated the investigation on extrajudicial killings in Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs without hearing witnesses already set to testify. Gordon’s committee report belied the existence of state-sponsored killings.

“I was merely stating an observation. I did not do anything improper and unethical. In fact, there are many senators who are disgruntled about the way he (Gordon) is handling the case,” he said.

After the turbulent ending of Thursday’s hearing, Gordon insisted he was not protecting the President’s son and dismissed Trillanes’ criticisms as baseless.

On Friday, Gordon maintained his position against summoning the President’s son and son-in-law, saying the Senate was not “a cockpit of gossip.”

“We are here to find the truth, so we will not be misled by lies and hearsay,” Gordon said.

The Senate minority bloc supported Trillanes and urged the majority to rethink their position on the threat of an ethics case against the senator.

“We cannot help but ask our colleagues in the majority if this is an attempt to harass and intimidate a colleague in the opposition,” the minority senators said in a statement.

It said a decision to suspend or dismiss Trillanes would weaken the opposition and democracy as a whole.

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TAGS: Bureau of Customs, Customs fixer Mark Ruben Taguba II, Mans Carpio, Paolo Duterte, Richard Gordon, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, shabu, shabu smuggling
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