Guingona says suspending ‘Tanda, Kuya, Pogi’ tough
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—Sen. Teofisto “TG” Guingona III said the suspension of his Senate colleagues who are facing plunder and graft charges for allegedly pocketing hundreds of millions of pesos in kickbacks through the misuse of their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, was not likely to happen soon.
Guingona, the Senate blue ribbon committee chair, said any move to suspend Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. would have to go through a long process. Pork scam witness Benhur Luy has tagged the three senators—Enrile is “Tanda”, Estrada is “Kuya” and Revilla is “Pogi”—as beneficiaries of hundreds of millions of pesos in kickbacks in connivance with alleged wheeler-dealer Janet Lim-Napoles.
The suspension is a “painstaking process that will require sufficient time and long debates” before an order can be finally issued, said Guingona.
And finally, there has to be a majority of votes of members of the Senate before the three senators can even be ordered suspended, he added.
Guingona, in a dialogue on Friday with Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal and 70 village chiefs here, lamented that despite the findings of the blue ribbon committee pinning down the three senators for involvement in the PDAF scam, the Senate could not immediately suspend them.
He said the first step was for a case to be filed in the Senate ethics committee where it would undergo another series of debates before the chamber could decide to either suspend or expel a senator.
Guingona said the Senate had yet to organize the ethics committee and appoint its chair and members.
He said there were only a few senators who had signified interest in heading the ethics committee.
If the Senate convenes the ethics committee and passes a suspension order, Guingona said the issue still had to be presented at a plenary session where majority of Senate members must decide whether a colleague should be suspended or expelled.
Asked whether the Senate could give a timeline for the suspension order, Guingona said, “In all honesty and because of the process we have to follow, we cannot give a definite timeline for this.”
Under the plunder law, another entity that can issue a suspension order is the Sandiganbayan, which will be hearing the plunder case filed by the Ombudsman against the three senators.
Asked to comment on the statement of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and the netizens’ movement for Enrile, Estrada and Revilla to resign from their posts, Guingona said, “Resignation is a personal decision.”
“It would be up to them to decide,” he said.
Guingona held a series of dialogues dubbed “Ulat sa Bayan” in the city where he presented the findings of the blue ribbon committee to village chieftains.
The senator was a guest of Albay Gov. Joey Salceda at the provincial government’s Daragang Magayon Festival and at the awarding ceremony of outstanding Albayanos.
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