Sotto twits De Lima over Malacañang meeting
Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said he and some senators met with President Rodrigo Duterte Tuesday night but denied being pressured by Malacañang to stop the Senate probe on a former Davao City policeman’s allegations against the chief executive.
Belying the claims of Senator Leila de Lima that the meeting was about the allegations of retired SPO3 Arturo Lascañas, Sotto said Malacañang did not summon them to the meeting, adding the senators were the ones who sought an audience with the President.
Lascanas has linked Duterte to the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS) when he was mayor of Davao City.
“It was Greg, Allan and I who were seeking an audience since last week. Natuloy lang noong Tuesday,” Sotto said in a text message on Thursday. He was referring to Senators Gringo Honasan and Alan Peter Cayetano.
Sotto said they talked about the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, the insurgency issue and the situation in Mindanao. Nothing was mentioned about Lascañas, he said.
“Lascañas issue was not even a sidelight. He (Duterte) never mentioned anything about Senate issues,” he said.
Sotto said he even mentioned during the hearing about the confirmation hearings of Duterte’s appointees at the Commission on Appointments and “he did not ask for any favors.”
“Bahala daw kami sa mga nominees,” he said, quoting the President.
Asked about De Lima’s claim that Malacanang wanted to stop the Senate probe on Lascañas’ allegations, Sotto said, she was “dead wrong!”
“If the President wanted to stop us, I could have moved for an MR (motion for reconsideration) yesterday and easily get the majority to vote,” Sotto said.
“Sa tingin mo ba matutuloy ang hearing kung ayaw ng Pangulo? He actually does not care or mind at all, otherwise he would have mentioned it,” Sotto added in a separate text message to reporters .
Several sources said Sotto was among those who abstained when the senators voted in a caucus on Tuesday whether or not to proceed with the probe even after the issue had already been referred to committee on public order and dangerous drugs chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson.
Ten senators voted to proceed with the probe while eight were against it. Four abstained from voting.
De Lima claimed Wednesday that after the caucus, some senators were summoned to the Palace. CBB
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