Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito took turns in lashing at Senator Antonio Trillanes after the opposition senator accused senators of being “puppets” of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Lacson, a member of the majority in the Senate, said Trillanes is “hallucinating too much.”
Senators, according to Trillanes, have become lapdogs of Duterte.
“Itong Senado na dati ay ‘yan yung last bastion of democracy eh ngayon, wala na, para na rin kaming mga tuta nitong administrasyon na ito. Ni ayaw mag-imbestiga eh. Dito ako makakakita ng mga senador na takot, kaalyado ka na lang kasi ayaw mo aminin na takot ka eh,” he said in a press conference on July 2.
“Maybe it is high time that we refer to the Senate Ethics Committee Sen. Trillanes’ actions since he is becoming damaging to the institution, and becoming destructive to the country,” Ejercito said in a statement. Ejercito said that he found Trillanes’ comments “disrespectful and unparliamentary” and noted that he should be reminded that the Senate is a democratic institution.
“I don’t know where he is coming from and I’m not even sure if he is still rationale in his thinking. One thing I’m sure about, he is dead wrong. He is so out of touch with reality, if not hallucinating too much,” Lacson told reporters in a text message.
As puppets of Malacanang, Trillanes, who is severely critical of Duterte, likened the senators to dogs with tails between the legs, afraid of the President.
“‘Yung mga dapat sana na pumuna eh wala eh, sila yung mga bahag ang buntot,” he said.
Ejercito earlier suggested filing of complaint against Trillanes in the Senate committee on ethics, but has mellowed down to demanding that the opposition senator apologize to his colleages..
“If a person apologizes, end of story. As long as he admits his mistake, end of story. An apology would be good for the institution — not for me — the institution,” Ejercito said in a Kapihan press conference on Wednesday.
Ejercito said that he would rather not file a complaint and would wait until he gets the chance to speak to his colleagues before doing so.
The Senate resumes its regular sessions on July 24.
“I do not want to do this to anybody…but I hope Sen. Trillanes should realize that he should not generalize his colleagues,” Ejercito said.
“We could debate on issues, we may have heated exchanges but we have to refrain from insulting each other because it’s in the Senate rules,” he added.
Ejercito also stressed that Trillanes lapdog comment about senators is not true because the Senate, as an independent institution, was given the mandate by voters and not by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.
He said that it was not fair to assume that those who agreed with the President were immediately lapdogs as it was not all the time that senators were against the President’s policies.
“We have to give (the President) a chance. It’s not all the time we are against him. Constructive criticism is different from destructive criticism,” Ejercito said.
He said that personally, he supported Pres. Duterte for his commitment to spend trillions of pesos to improve the country’s infrastructure.
However, he said that he opposed the proposed tax reform program as it was “too high.”
“There are still a lot of issues that the Senate has shown that we are independent though we support the administration,” the senator stressed.
“We have to maintain decency here,” he added.
In a separate press conference, Senate Majority Leader and chair of the Senate Ethics Committee Vicente Sotto III, like Ejercito, said that an apology would be the best step Trillanes could make.
Sotto said that it was the “honorable” thing to do but noted that he would not demand it form Trillanes. (Azer N. Parrocha/PNA