House panel conducting drug probe detains Pampanga town ex-mayor
MANILA, Philippines — The House Committee on Dangerous Drugs has ordered the detention of the former Mayor Teddy Tumang of Mexico, Pampanga, for 30 days after he publicly disclosed details of an executive session on illegal drug seizures in Pampanga.
Tumang was cited for contempt by the committee in a hearing on Wednesday and was escorted to a detention room inside the House of Representatives.
The committee chair, Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, said the former town mayor violated a House rule on inquiries in aid of legislation and executive sessions.
“We are citing the former mayor for contempt for violating Section 7 of our rules governing inquiries in aid of legislation, subject to motions for reconsideration,” Barbers said after members of the panel agreed to cite Tumang for contempt and detain him.
Section 7 of the House rules stated that “testimony taken or evidence presented in an executive session, or any summary or excerpt thereof, or documents related thereto, in whole or in part, shall not be made public, unless authorized by a majority vote of the Members present, there being a quorum.”
Tumang was a resource person in the House panel’s probe on seizures of illegal drugs in Pampanga in the past months, which was sought by House senior deputy speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr.
The investigation also involved the 530 kilos of “shabu” discovered at the Empire 999 warehouse in Barangay San Jose Malino in Mexico town.
The former tower mayor attended the House dangerous drugs panel’s hearing last Oct. 9. He held a press conference on Oct. 11 and claimed that he received information about the panel’s executive session.
Tumang alleged that during the executive session, Gonzales asked law enforcers during an executive session if Tumang was “really not involved” in illegal drugs as if to “implicate” him.
Tumang was not present at the executive session, while Gonzales is the representative of Pampanga’s third district, which includes Mexico.
Before deciding on Tumang’s fate, Barbers confronted the former town mayor, who admitted to holding a press conference after receiving information from an unknown informant about the executive session.
Tumang said he held the press conference as he felt “rattled and scared” about the supposed information he learned from the mysterious tipster.
He claimed to be unaware of the House’s rules and apologized for his actions, but Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop pointed out that Tumang’s ignorance of the law would not excuse him from being liable.
He said a man approached him at a coffee shop along the North Luzon Expressway and told him of the executive session but could not provide the man’s identity.