May 25, 2009
With the indulgence of my colleagues in this Chamber, I take the floor on a matter of personal privilege to reply to the accusations and personal attacks against me by the Minority Floor Leader, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. I am happy that in response to my challenge to him to say whatever he wants to say against me to my face, he has finally done so today. As I told him, if he will be man enough to do that and for the sake of relieving him of his reluctance to be straightforward with me, as he claims out of "CIVILITY", I will respond to him in equal measure.
First of all, I never challenged him to a "shooting war"- the words he used in an interview. The senator from Cagayan de Oro said that he is not a "gunslinger," implying that I am a "gunslinger" just because I have called on him to end his hypocrisy and duplicity. Assuming that in his perception, I am a gunslinger, which I am not, I will not waste a bullet on him. A bullet is too expensive for a coward.
Secondly, the Senator from Cagayan de Oro keeps repeating references to Martial Law and that I may be forgetting that we are no longer under Martial Law. I know that. How can I forget that when after President Marcos was deposed in the 1986, Mr. Pimentel was immediately appointed Secretary of Local Government by President Corazon Aquino? In fact, none of us here, especially Senator Pimentel, would be able to perorate here in this Chamber if it were not for the fact that the EDSA Revolution, as people want to call it, succeed? It is him who continually suffers from an incurable paranoia over martial law and I don't blame him.
I have said in the past that I respect the feelings of people like Mr. Pimentel, Senator Arroyo, Senator Aquino and his family, and everyone who opposed and suffered under the martial law regime of which I was a part. I cannot blame them, especially those who suffered injustices as a result of the excesses and abuses committed under that regime. As Defense Secretary during Martial Law, I have been hailed to Court many times, and I have subjected myself to the judgment of the Courts, the Filipino people, and, ultimately, history and God.
But what does Martial Law have to do with the proceedings of the Committee of the Whole? The proceedings so far done in the Villar ethics case were done in accordance with parliamentary rules. The proposals from the minority block to amend the published rules of the Ethics Committee were done through voting. Some proposals of the minority block were adopted and some were rejected by votes of the Senators present. If that is not democracy, then I do not know what democracy is.
Perhaps, what the Senator from Cagayan de Oro meant as "martial law" was the fact that he failed to have his way. Over the years, he was so used to have his way in the Senate because very few dared to tangle with him. That was why he developed some sort of intellectual arrogance that he now displays.
The Senator from Cagayan de Oro's behavior has been tolerated by other Senators who previously headed this Senate. Now that I have rebuffed him, he could not take it like a man. He felt offended, especially when I ruled him out of order for talking too much, and lengthily at that, after I had made a ruling against his wishes. I appealed to him to stop because I did not want to rule him out of order, but he dared me to rule him out of order. So I did!
Then, like a spoiled brat, he went into a tantrum. He walked out, but before he did, he tapped me in the back and said "pasensiya na Manong ha", to which I replied "It's ok, I understand Nene." That is not the first time. After the Committee of the Whole was constituted, he approached me and said "Manong, I am sorry ha". For whatever it was he was sorry about, I sincerely said "Wala yon sa akin Nene." But after he walked out during that hearing, he went before the media, and accused me of being an authoritarian and again, he said something about Martial Law.
He even congratulated me at one time for having handled the proceedings "judiciously"- those were his words.
That is why I say I am sick and tired of his hypocrisy and duplicity. I am sorry for you. Know that for as long as I am the Senate President, your antics will not be tolerated anymore in this Senate, no matter how loud you shout the words "authoritarian," "despotic", "dictator" or other derogatory epithets against me.
I do not want hypocrites to call me "Manong" or "friend." I want to call a spade a spade. No pretensions, Mr. Senator from Cagayan de Oro.
The Senator from Cagayan de Oro said he could not understand why I was "fuming mad now when (I) was the one who dared the minority to go to court."
For the information of the Senator, I was not fuming because he went to the Supreme Court. In fact, he is correct that I encouraged him to go to court and I said in my press statement that it is unfortunate that the minority has chosen to seek refuge from the Supreme Court to question the internal proceedings of the Senate which is a co-equal branch of this Government. I even acknowledged the right of anyone to go to court to seek redress for his grievances.
I was mad because the Senator from Cagayan de Oro personally attacked me again in the Petition for Certiorari. He made sure to cite me in that Petition and accused me of "unabashed display of dictatorial tendencies by the Chair of the Committee of the Whole abetted by a majority of its members�"
Pardon me for saying this directly to the face of the Senator from Cagayan de Oro: Hipokrito ka! Nagkukunwari ka na kaibigan mo ako. Ngunit pagwala ka na sa harap ko, sinasaksak mo ako. Alam ko na hindi ganyan ang mga taga Cagayan de Oro na mga kababayan mo. Ikaw, iba ka. Hindi ka lalaking makipag-usap. May pagka-traidor ka.
The Senator from Cagayan de Oro was quoted in the Philippine Star as having said that the Rules of the Senate Committee of the Whole "were arbitrary."
Truth to tell, the first and major amendment that the minority wanted the Committee to accept was that the jurisdiction of the Ethics Committee is limited to the conduct of a Senator under the present Congress - meaning, that the acts alleged to have been committed by Senator Villar during the Thirteenth Congress are not within the jurisdiction of the Committee to investigate. I gave all the leeway for this substantive amendment to be discussed and debated but in the end, you lost the vote! Obviously, the intent of the Senator was not to make the rules fair, but in fact, to stop the proceedings if the Committee accepted this amendment.
Still, I said that jurisdiction is a matter of defense and the respondent may raise the issue at any point in the proceedings.
The actuations of the Senator from Cagayan de Oro and his members in the minority after they lost the vote on that single-most important part of their ploy were already clearly dilatory. After the Committee voted to adopt some of their amendments, they then moved to insist on a re-publication of the Rules as Amended, as if the respondent Senator Villar and all the members of the Senate who are furnished copies of the complaint and its attachments and are duly notified of all proceedings, will suffer from ignorance and their rights compromised if such supplemental Rules were not published.
The Senator from Cagayan de Oro said, "I am openly accusing him (referring to me) in being a dictator in running the affairs of the committee."
Again, like he is wont to do when he wants his way to prevail over those of others that he can bluff and bamboozle, the Senator makes a conclusion without offering any proof. You say that I am a dictator, but you do not say that the voting was contrived or that I dictated the votes on the other Senators.
He could not say that because the other Senators he is also attacking will surely prove him wrong and he will be exposed for being a liar and he knows it! If any Senator in this hall can say that I ever dictated how they should vote in the proceedings of the Committee, let them stand up and let the world know who is lying.
The Senator from Cagayan de Oro calls me a dictator because he cannot bend me to follow his bidding for his "client" who is the respondent in the Ethics case. I repeat, he is acting more as a lawyer for the respondent than an impartial member of the Committee. Senator Villar should pay him his fees. He denies this, of course. But my impression is different based on his actuations in and out of the proceedings. He uses his Ciceronian and Websterian skills to protect and promote the interest of the respondent in the ethics case. For what reason, only God knows.
The Senator from Cagayan de Oro says he wants "the right procedures of investigation be followed." But then I ask, "What is the right procedures of investigation" that you want to be followed?
It seems the Senator from Cagayan de Oro thinks he is the only one who knows the right procedures? Are the other Senators ignoramuses?
Perhaps, if the other Senators would accede to all his proposals to save his "client", he would probably applaud with glee and say that the procedures are right. He is, indeed, very clever. Senator Pimentel said I could not threaten him. I did not threaten the Senator from Cagayan de Oro. I would not threaten you. I would not waste my time on you. In fact, I would threaten someone who is not worth threatening.
The Senator from Cagayan de Oro says he wants a full debate on the Villar case. What a trick!
The Villar case is not for debate, for the information of the Senator from Cagayan de Oro. The Villar case is for the proper disposition and full hearing in accordance with the Rules to ferret out the truth so that the people will be informed. No dissimulations, no hiding behind technicalities. In debates, especially for skillful sophists and forked tongues like the Senator from Cagayan de Oro, a black can be made to appear white, and white can be made to appear black.
But not so in a full hearing, Mr. Senator from Cagayan de Oro. In a full hearing, evidence is presented under oath in a well-ordered trial. This is what the Senator from Cagayan de Oro desperately wants to avoid. As senator-lawyer for respondent Manny Villar, his goal is to prevent a full hearing of the ethics case against Senator Villar. Huwag na tayong maglokohan.
The Senator from Cagayan de Oro says the rules are not internal because there will be many people who will be called or implicated. But are not the Rules of Court of suppletory application to the Ethics Rules? The Ethics Rules also provide that substantial rights are respected, hindi ba? They also allow the adoption of supplemental rules in specific cases, hindi ba? Ano pa ba ang kailangan ng Senador ng Cagayan de Oro? Kulang pa ba o talagang hindi lang makakakita ang nagbubulag-bulagan?
The bottom line is that the minority wants desperately to prevent the submission of evidence against respondent Manuel Villar.
I saw the Senator from Cagayan de Oro in the news being interviewed by media after he filed the Petition in the Supreme Court. Sabi niya, Ang gusto sana namin ay huwag mag-participate yung mga presidentiables." Kung ganoon, ang tinutukoy niya ay sina Senator Mar Roxas, Senator Lacson, Senator Legarda, Senator Gordon, Senator Escudero at siguro dapat isama niya si Senator Pangilinan. Iyan ang pagkakamali nila. Ang mga Senador na ito, dahil lamang sa paghayag nila na sila ay gustong ihain ang sarili nila sa bayan bilang Pinuno ng Bansa sa darating na halalan, tulad din ni Senator Villar, ay hinusgahan na nila na hindi magiging patas sa kanilang pagtrato o pag-pasya sa maselang kaso na ito.
Ang paghuhusga na ito ay hindi ko matatanggap di lamang dahil ito'y baluktot na pag-iisip. Higit pa doon, ito ay hindi makatarungan sa ating mga kasamahan sa Kapulungang ito. Hindi lang si Senator Villar ang may karapatang mag-ambisyon o mangarap na magsilbi sa bayang ito bilang Pangulo.
The Senator from Cagayan de Oro said, "We are not attacking the Senate but his (referring to me again) Martial Law ways of leading the committee." That was what he said in the Philippine Star.
When he says "we", I believe he speaks for his Co-Petitioners- Senators Joker Arroyo, Francis Pangilinan, Pia Cayetano, Alan Peter Cayetano and the respondent in the Ethics case, Senator Manuel Villar.
And so I would like to ask: does the Senator from Cagayan de Oro or any one of the Petitioners want to Chair the Senate Committee of the Whole?
I would gladly give it to them, resign as Chair of the Committee of the Whole after this speech, and I will nominate the Senator from Cagayan de Oro. Or perhaps the Senator from Cagayan de Oro and his Co-Petitioners who have accused me of being a dictator would like to nominate someone else?
Wala akong paki-alam at hindi ko ginusto o pinag-nasahan ang trabahong ito pati na ang pagka-pangulo ng Senado. Kung meron kayong mas gusto o pinagkakatiwalaan para makamit ang gusto ninyo, hindi ako magkakapit-tuko sa aking pwesto. Iiwanan ko ang pagpapasya niyan sa buong Kapulungang ito sapagkat ako ay naglilingkod lamang dito sa inyong kagustuhan at pahintulot.
Please, say what you want, Mr. Senator from Cagayan de Oro and all of you who share his sentiments. I am ready. I would not have reached this point in my life if I were afraid of anything- even of losing my own life.
Maraming salamat po.
Tuesday, April 25
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