Trillanes to push for Pimentel ouster if Gordon stays as blue ribbon chair

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV plans to push for the ouster of Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III if Senator Richard Gordon remains as blue ribbon committee chairman.

Trillanes criticized Pimentel for his "passive leadership" and for allowing Gordon to "protect" President Rodrigo Duterte and his family in the Senate hearings.

"I will put the responsibility kay Senator Koko Pimentel kapag hindi nila tinanggal si Senator Gordon. Kumbaga I am working very hard para mapalitan si Senator Pimentel not because of Senator Pimentel per se but because of Senator Gordon," Trillanes said in a press conference on Thursday, September 28.

(I will put the responsibility on Senator Koko Pimentel if Senator Gordon is not removed as blue ribbon committee chairman. I am working very hard to oust Senator Pimentel not because of Senator Pimentel per se but because of Senator Gordon.)

"'Yung committee ni Senator Gordon, siya 'yung blue ribbon committee chair, siya rin pinaka-sentro ng imbestigasyon. Siya representante ng leadership ni Koko Pimentel dito sa Senado. So sa akin, for as long as Senator Gordon is there, eh talagang makikita mo na apektado ang independence ng Senado," Trillanes added.

(Senator Gordon is the blue ribbon committee chair, he is at the center of the investigation. He represents the Senate leadership of Koko Pimentel. So for me, for as long as Senator Gordon is there, the independence of the Senate is really affected.)

The chair handling the committee that looks into accountability of public officers should have the "mindset of an investigator and not of a defense lawyer," Trillanes also said.

Trillanes earlier called Gordon's committee "committee de absuwelto" for clearing Duterte, his allies, and his family members from allegations.

Trillanes said he already brought up his issue with the Senate leader but to no avail.

"Hindi lang tolerating (Not only is he tolerating), but he (Pimentel) actually believes that Gordon is doing a good job defending Duterte and his family," Trillanes said.

He went on to say that Gordon is already reaping the benefits of his "reward-winning" stint as blue ribbon chair, citing the appointment of Gordon's alleged "protégé" Wilma Eisma as chair of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

'Go ahead'

In response, Pimentel said Trillanes can push through with his plans.

"He can go ahead with his plans. This is a free country," he said in a message.

Gordon, for his part, defended Pimentel and said the Senate President is "doing a good job."

"Koko is doing a good job, Koko is trying to be fair to everybody. Kung totoo iyan, dapat walang siga ang minority pero pinagbibigyan ang minority (If that is true, then there should be no bully in the minority but Pimentel is giving the minority a chance). What is he (Trillanes) talking about? He even has a civil service committee," Gordon said, referring to the Trillanes-led panel.

Gordon earlier filed an ethics complaint against Trillanes. The latter is also set to file a counter-complaint, as well as plunder charges over Gordon's alleged anomalies in the Philippine Red Cross.

Pimentel and Gordon are allies of Duterte, with Pimentel serving as the president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

In 2016, Gordon ended the Senate justice committee probe into the spate of extrajudicial killings, clearing the President. (READ: Senate ends probe: Neither Duterte nor state sponsored killings)

He also said there was no evidence against the so-called Davao Death Squad amid testimonies of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato and former Davao cop Arturo Lascañas Jr.

Gordon, as blue ribbon committee chairman, also cleared presidential son Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and son-in-law Manases Carpio from smuggling allegations, saying there was no evidence presented against them. –

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.