Punching congressman ‘tarnishes’ Philippine House
MANILA, Philippines—A Porsche-driving Philippine lawmaker who punched a security guard during a parking lot altercation has brought Congress into disrepute, a senior legislator said Tuesday.
The House of Representatives is looking into the August 31 case to see how the alleged assailant – opposition legislator Mohammed Hussein Pangandaman – can be called to account, Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada said.
“It tarnishes the image (of Congress) and it is the reason why the House should look into this, and maybe the committee on ethics should be authorized to investigate the case,” Tañada told AFP.
The guard reported the assault to the police but has so far declined to press criminal charges, telling a local television station in an interview that he feared retribution by Pangandaman, who belongs to a powerful political clan.
“Naturally I am afraid. I am just an ordinary person,” the guard said in comments carried on the ABS-CBN news website.
Pangandaman has admitted striking the guard but insists he did it in self-defense when the guard allegedly stopped his Porsche and tried to draw his gun in a commercial parking lot in a Manila suburb.
The parking lot operator said in a statement published in the local press that the guard approached Pangandaman after the politician drove into the lot without having his car undergo security checks.
Filipino security guards employed by most government and private buildings routinely check vehicles that enter the premises for hidden explosives or guns.
Tañada said the parliament’s ethics committee is waiting for the guard to file a formal complaint so Pangandaman can be investigated, adding that he is verifying whether the process can begin without the complaint.
Human rights groups have long complained of a “culture of impunity” in the Philippines that allows powerful figures to kill or abuse political rivals, journalists, lawyers and others who get in their way.
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