Only Sotto among senators willing to discipline colleagues | Inquirer News

Only Sotto among senators willing to discipline colleagues

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 04:21 AM December 09, 2013

Sen. Vicente Sotto III: Willing. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—It appears that no senator wants to have anything to do with the ethics committee, what with their chamber dogged by the pork barrel scandal. And, more recently, by the bitter unparliamentary exchange on the floor between Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

One senator, though, is willing to take on the tough job of investigating colleagues on ethical matters.


Sen. Vicente Sotto III expressed willingness to chair the committee, with his first order of business apparently the expunging from the Senate record the speeches of Enrile and Santiago that were marked by name-calling.


Sotto and Sen. Sergio Osmeña III have moved to expunge the speeches, or the portions that used unparliamentary language. Santiago has balked at this.

“I will suggest tomorrow that we refer both speeches to the committee on ethics, and both of them should be heard in a committee hearing,” said Sotto by phone. “I want to hear why their speeches, or portions of them, should not be expunged.”

The problem, however, is the ethics committee has yet to be convened and its members and chair elected.

“If they elect me, I will accept it. Friendship should not be an issue,” said Sotto, a member of the Enrile-led minority bloc. “I’m sure there are those in the majority who want to chair it. Otherwise, I’ll give it a thought.”

Sotto had refused to chair a committee in the current Congress.

Almost five months after the 16th Congress opened, the 24 senators have yet to elect the members of the ethics committee.


A senator offered this explanation: The Senate had its hands full as it rushed to approve the 2014 national budget and the 2013 supplemental budget and didn’t want another distraction that would stir controversy, if not partisanship.

“The ethics committee is [like] walking on egg shells because it involves [the] disciplin[ing] of members of the chamber,” said the senator, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

“It appears the reluctance on the part of the individual members of the Senate, and even collectively, is coming from the fact that we have a lot more other urgent business to attend to,” the senator said in a phone interview.

Besides, with three senators facing plunder charges over the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam, “we don’t need another situation that will generate more controversy, more partisanship,” the senator said.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV agreed senators were reluctant to chair the committee.

“Because it’s quite difficult to investigate a colleague on a highly subjective matter such as ethics within a politically charged environment,” he explained in a text.

Already, the Blue Ribbon Committee’s inquiry into the workings of the alleged P10-billion pork barrel scam has caused deep animosity between several senators.

Charged were Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon Revilla Jr., along with alleged scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and 34 other government and private officials.

Trillanes said the matter of striking the speeches from the Senate record would be “best deliberated” in plenary.

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Sotto said that if the ethics committee isn’t convened, the speeches could be referred to the rules committee, which is chaired by the majority leader and which could call an executive committee hearing.

TAGS: ethics committee, Probe, Senate

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