MANILA, Philippines — Did Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan deliberately withhold a resolution from majority lawmakers so they could be put in a bad light?
Two days after the senators led by Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III parried criticisms over their failure to endorse Senate Resolution 516 and explained that they were not able to sponsor the measure because the document did not reach their offices, Pangilinan’s camp released to media a proof that his office had sent a copy of the resolution to his colleagues in the majority bloc.
In a statement issued Friday, lawyer Herminio Bagro III, the chief of staff of Pangilinan, said the copy of the resolution — urging the government to exercise its power to stop the spate of killings, especially of young people — was sent last Sept. 21 to the “publicly available and official” email addresses of senators Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Cynthia Villar, Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Sotto.
Bagro said that through the email of the Legislative Unit Office of Pangilinan, he informed the said senators that the resolution had already been signed by 16 other lawmakers. He then asked the staffers of the senators if the lawmakers would be willing to support the resolution.
“May we know if your respective principals will sign said Resolution? Should they approve, kindly inform our office so we can send you the original Resolution for signature,” the email read.
Bagro on Friday said the email was sent to the senators “to inform them about the resolution and to show the number of signatures, and to ask them if they want to sponsor it.”
Bagro attached to his statement sent to the media a screenshot of his email to the senators. [SEE THE SCREENSHOT BELOW.]
“Senator Gordon acknowledged receipt of the email on the same day,” Bagro said.
No additional endorsers days after resolution was emailed to senators
Four days later, on Sept. 25, Pangilinan’s office filed the resolution at 5:33 p.m. without any additional sponsors.
On Tuesday, September 26, the resolution was read on the floor, stating its title and the names of the 16 co-authors before Senate president Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III referred it to the committees of senators Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros and Panfilo Lacson, according to Bagro.
Bagro said “it should be noted that no one manifested desire to be a co-author of the measure” days after the email was sent to the majority lawmakers and during the time when the resolution was read on the floor.
“Clearly there was no attempt to keep or withhold the resolution from the seven senators. The Senate rules were followed,” said Bagro.
Last Sept. 27, Sotto and other majority senators got irked by a blog published by Silent No More PH on Sept. 26 urging Filipinos to show their outrage against the senators who didn’t support Pangilinan’s measure.
The blog accused the lawmakers of being “Malacañang dogs” because “their loyalty is to the Palace, not to Filipino people whose votes gave them mandate.”
“These senators’ votes are reflective of their stance: They don’t care about lives. They don’t want to hold this government accountable. They only care about their alliance with Malacañang,” it noted.
This prompted Sotto to deliver a privilege speech, condemning the “stupid and silly” blog, which he said was obviously being used to “destroy” him and other majority senators.
He said he would file cyber libel cases against the people behind Silent No More PH.
“I have never seen this shadow of this resolution. Hindi dumaan sa opisina ko ‘yan pagkatapos [That did not reach my office then they would say that] I did not sign?” Sotto said in his speech.
“I will request to direct the Senate secretariat to investigate who’s behind prostituting this resolution and use the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) Cybercrime Division because I will be very kind. I will just file a cyber libel case against these people,” he added.
Zubiri said that having a resolution passed around without their knowledge felt like being “stabbed in the back.”
He said he and the six other senators who failed to sign Pangilinan’s resolution had filed their own resolution condemning the killings.
Villar said she and her colleagues “did not refuse to sign” the resolution but “were not asked to sign.”
“Somebody from media told me two senators are going to destroy us. It’s only when I saw that blog when I started thinking maybe this is the beginning,” Villar said.
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