Senators Juan Miguel Zubiri and Antonio Trillanes IV engaged in a word war during Tuesday’s legislative session following Trillanes’ accusation that Zubiri, along with Senator Richard Gordon, attempted to “whitewash” a Senate probe that would look into the bribery scandal involving former Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials.
Zubiri said he took offense on Trillanes’ allegation, which stemmed from his opposition to refer the resolution seeking an investigation on the BI corruption scandal to the Senate committee on civil service, government reorganization and professional conduct.
Trillanes is the chairman of the said committee.
“I don’t care. If they want to investigate, investigate. If they want to raise hell in their committee, I don’t care. My [intention] was just to discuss rules,” Zubiri said.
Zubiri said he has been never accused of whitewashing since he first became a legislator in the House of Representatives.
He then moved that the BI bribery scandal be investigated by the Senate blue ribbon committee, which is chaired by Gordon.
After Zubiri’s speech, Trillanes took the floor, further taunting his colleague.
“They blocked the referral to my committee and therefore, they should expect me to react on the matter and I’m glad that the gentleman took offense because in fact, the statement was meant to be offensive,” Trillanes said.
Trillanes also raised the allegations of poll fraud against Zubiri, calling him a “cheater.” Ironically, it was Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who had lodged an election protest against Zubiri, who was presiding the session.
“If you want to have war, be prepared to have one,” Trillanes, a former Navy officer, told Zubiri.
Zubiri, for his part, retorted Trillanes, as he raised the latter's rebellion, referring to the Oakwood Mutiny in 2003, and the Manila Peninsula siege in 2007.
“I never cheated... The gentleman was also accused of rebellion and treason. He was lucky the former president pardoned him," Zubiri said.
Trillanes defended his past actions, saying: “Yes, I was accused of rebellion and I’m proud of it; I believe it is one of the shining moments in my life.”
Zubiri moved that Trillanes’ statements calling him a “cheater” and a “defender of the faith” to be stricken off the record.
“Anong klaseng war sinasabi niya? We are all here working as hard as we can but one thing I do not agree is that he falsely accused another [member of the Senate],” Zubiri said.
He also appeared to have challenged Trillanes to a fight, saying: “I did not become a world champion of arnis for nothing.”
All's well that ends ell
Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III then moved for the suspension of the Senate following the word war between his colleagues.
Upon suspension of the Senate, Zubiri walked towards Trillanes, while Pimentel stood in their middle, and other senators, including boxing champion-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao, surrounded them.
After almost an hour into suspension, Sotto moved to strike off the record the "unpleasant exchange" between Zubiri and Trillanes.
Zubiri and Trillanes were later seen shaking hands before the senators proceeded with their agenda for the day. — RSJ, GMA News