MANILA, Philippines — Things got personal Thursday between Senators Richard Gordon and Antonio Trillanes IV at the resumption of the inquiry into the smuggling of 604 kilos of crystal meth, or “shabu,” with the Blue Ribbon committee chair vowing to file an ethics complaint against the former Navy officer.
The verbal tussle broke out when Gordon asked Trillanes if he and Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III were being accused of “badgering” customs broker Mark Taguba, a key witness in the investigation who has also linked Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo “Pulong” Duterte, his brother-in-law Manases “Mans” Carpio, and Davao Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera of belonging to a so-called “Davao group” that facilitates the release of shipments from the Bureau of Customs.
Abellera attended the hearing.
Before this, Trillanes also engaged Sotto in a brief exchange, asking the majority leader to let Duterte and Carpio “defend themselves” and “not lawyer for them” after saying he overheard Sotto call Taguba’s testimony “hearsay.”
This was after Trillanes, saying there was enough information to warrant it, moved to have Duterte and Carpio invited to the inquiry.
Gordon dared Trillanes to prove his accusation against himself and Sotto and suspended the session as he declared his colleague out of order.
Despite this, Trillanes spoke into the microphone and called the body a “komite de absuwelto (committee of acquittal).”
This prompted Gordon to resume session to ask Sotto to “convoke the ethics committee and I will personally file an ethics complaint” against Trillanes and to “tell the gentleman from Bicol to behave himself or I will put the sergeant-at-arms before him.”
The two continued to trade words, at one point standing face-to-face as Sotto came between them as personnel of the office of the sergeant-at-arms stood by. After a while, Sotto moved to suspend the proceedings again and Trillanes walked out of the session hall.
After Trillanes left, Gordon apologized saying what had happened was “not befitting the Senate” and resumed the hearing.
Trillanes rejoined the hearing after a few minutes.