Drilon’s reso on BI inquiry, overhaul sparks Senate skirmish
Senators bickered on Monday over a resolution, seeking an inquiry into possible reorganization of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) following the reported P50 million bribe offer by businessman tycoon Jack Lam.
Senate Resolution No. 256 filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon had already been referred to the Senate committee on civil service and government reorganization chaired by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
But Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, at the resumption of session, said the bill should have been referred to the Senate committee on justice, which he said has jurisdiction over the matter since the BI is an officer under the Department of Justice.
Senator Richard Gordon, who chairs the justice committee, backed Zubiri’s argument.
Gordon suspects that the Drilon’s resolution is really aimed at investigating the bribery scandal, which is the subject of another resolution filed by Senator Leila de Lima.
De Lima had filed a resolution directing Gordon’s committee to look into the bribery scandal but later withdrew it since she said the issue was already part of Drilon’s resolution. De Lima and Drilon are part of the Liberal Party.
“Let’s tear down the mask. The mask is to investigate the Department of Justice. If that is so, why are we afraid to investigate it?” Gordon said.
“They will have all the time in the world to ask the questions. I don’t even want to refer it today, every senator will have the right so long as they ask the questions, they can go on and on and ask questions and that’s my assurance,” he added.
“The original intention is investigate the corruption but now it has gotten bigger and now it’s now to reorganize. What will happen if we all start reorganizing the whole country…?” Gordon further asked.
But Drilon denied Gordon’s insinuation that there was a conspiracy to investigate the bribery scandal.
“For the record, I reject any insinuation that there is a cabal here on this particular issue,” he said, noting that his resolution was filed last December 15 when De Lima’s resolution was not “even in the air.”
“It’s clear that we filed the resolution almost a month before the De Lima resolution was filed and therefore, we take exception to any insinuations that there’s a cabal here,” Drilon added.
When Gordon denied using the word “cabal,” Drilon told his colleague that the language he used clearly implied that there was a “conspiracy.”
After a lengthy and heated debate, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III made a motion to reconsider the referral of Drilon’s resolution.
Fourteen senators voted in favor of Sotto’s motion and only seven voted against it.
The seven were Drilon, Trillanes, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto, Senators Leila de Lima, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Bam Aquino, and Risa Hontiveros.
After the approval of his motion, Sotto moved to refer the resolution to the committee on rules, which he chairs./ac
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