MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson hit back at Senator Antonio Trillanes IV for calling senators “puppets” of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Lacson, a member of the majority bloc, denied Trillanes’ allegation and said the minority senator is “hallucinating too much.”
“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 on Monday, July 3.
“Calling one's own colleagues "cowards" or "puppets" wholesale and without qualifying, is the darnest thing he can do,” Lacson added.
Trillanes, Duterte’s fiercest critic, said the Senate has been strongly damaged by the administration and has since become the government’s puppet.
“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.
(The Senate, which used to be the last bastion of democracy is now like the puppet of the administration. It does not want to investigate the government. I see senators who are afraid, who will just ally with the administration because he/she is afraid to admit he/she is afraid.)
Trillanes said some Senate committee heads refuse to do their jobs and probe the abuses of Duterte and his men.
“‘Yung mga dapat sana na pumuna eh wala eh, sila yung mga bahag ang buntot,” he said. (Those who should criticize, they are the ones with their tails between their legs.)
Senate under previous administrations more independent?
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III refused to comment, as he questioned Trillanes’ motive. Pimentel, partymate of Duterte in PDP-Laban, said it is not the first time the Senate faced such an allegation.
“No comment. Heard that before a number of times. Why revive it just for him to be in the news?” Pimentel said in a text message to reporters.
But minority Senator Francis Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, said the Senate in previous Congresses displayed “greater independence” than the present chamber.
“As a 3rd term Senator, I have seen greater independence on the part of the Senate as an institution under previous administrations,” Pangilinan said.
The Senate launched investigations into the rise of extrajudicial killings under Duterte and his alleged role in the Davao Death Squad but cleared the President of any wrongdoing.
It has also rejected calls to convene Congress to discuss Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao. It also rejected the resolution opposing the hero’s burial for dictator Ferdinand Marcos – one of Duterte’s campaign promises. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org