Matibag calls Senate budget hearing ‘political,’ gets kicked out
MANILA, Philippines — A close ally of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi was kicked out of a Senate hearing on Thursday after calling the deliberations “political” amid allegations of irregularities in the Department of Energy (DOE).
Senator Manny Pacquiao was grilling Cusi over the move of the DOE to allow the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) to serve as an independent market operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) in the country despite not meeting the requirements of the law such as technical capacity.
Pacquiao pointed out that one of the board members of IEMOP is the wife of Atty. Melvin Matibag, an official of the ruling PDP-Laban and a close ally of Cusi.
Matibag stepped in and asked why he is being included in the allegations made by Pacquiao when he was not related to IEMOP. Matibag was attending the meeting as the president of the National Transmission Commission (TransCo).
“Alam niyo let’s call a spade a spade dito sa hearing na ito, this is all political, Senator Pacquiao. Alam naman natin na ito ang pinapasabi mo bago ka umalis e, nung umalis ka na sinasabi mong meron kang pasabog,” Matibag, who is an officer in the faction led by Cusi that ousted Pacquiao from PDP-Laban, said.
“Wag tayong magmalinis dito,” he added.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who was presiding the hearing, had to step in to say that Matibag had no right to call the hearing political in nature as senators are entitled to ask policy questions.
“This is my committee and you have no right of calling this hearing a political hearing. This is a budget hearing. The senators are entitled to ask policy questions,” Gatchalian, raising his voice, said.
“You have no right of calling this a political hearing. You are out of order. You are no longer recognized. We’ve given you a chance to answer the policy question, but instead, you insulted this committee by calling this a political hearing? Di naman fair yon,” he added.
Gatchalian said Matibag should “leave the hearing” for going out of order.
“Sorry for that, bastos nitong si Atty. Matibag e. Sayang ang pagka-lawyer nya e parang walang pinag-aralan. Pinag-yayabang pa nya na mas matalino sya pero dito sa attitude nya e walang kagalang-galang,” Pacquiao said.
“Parang hindi nakapag-aral. Sorry for the word pero yun ang totoo, damat magpakita man lang ng paggalang. Akala mo kung sinong matapang. Akala niya tatayo ang balahibo ko sa kanya,” he added.
Cusi later apologized for Matibag’s actions.
“I have to apologize for the interruption. If you are offended by Atty. Matibag. I have to make that apology considering he comes from DOE family,” Cusi said.
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