Minority can ensure ‘checks and balances’ in Senate

Philippine Daily Inquirer June 07,2019 - 09:49 AM

Although they are only four left in the opposition slate, they are “a strong lineup … [who can] ensure that there [are] still checks and balances” in the Senate, outgoing Sen. Francis Escudero said of the remaining Liberal Party senators.

“Those left behind in the opposition are veterans,” Escudero said of Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Risa Hontiveros and Leila de Lima, who are outnumbered in the 24-member administration dominated upper chamber.

There were no winning senators from the Otso Diretso slate, while two opposition senators, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Sen. Bam Aquino are set to end their terms on June 30.

“I believe the minority will be in good hands. They are very active advocates and fiscalizers. The minority will not be crippled in any way,” Trillanes said.

The 18th Congress is dominated by allies of the Duterte administration, with three lawmakers perceived to be very close to the President—Senators-elect Christopher “Bong” Go, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, and Francis Tolentino.

Personal conscience

But Escudero said he believed these lawmakers would vote on legislation not according to the official line set down by their political party but according to their personal conscience.

“In these bills, what [are] followed usually are not party lines. The voting is not because of the party’s vote,” he said.

Trillanes, for his part, expects the opposition bloc to remain steadfast in its fight against any harassment.

“They will fight more, because there’s injustice and harassment like what happened to Sen. de Lima [who is now detained] … They are doing that to scare the opposition. But it didn’t work,” he said.

Though he “really plans to teach,” Trillanes said he would remain a “vocal and active” member of the opposition.

But he will have to be a bit more “creative” in criticizing the Duterte administration and should be ready for everything, he added.

Wild ride

Trillanes served for two terms in the Senate and was first elected in 2007 under the Arroyo administration.

“Let’s just say it was a wild ride,” he said of his Senate stint.  “There were many twists and turns, many downs, a few ups. But I believe that I have done my best. I tried to make a difference. Given the time, energy, the resources I have, I believe I’ve done my job,” Trillanes said.

Asked about Go’s plan to summon him to an investigation on the viral “Bikoy” videos being linked to him, Trillanes said opposition figures like him should be ready for everything under the Duterte administration.

He dared Peter Joemel Advincula alias “Bikoy” to file cases before the courts if the alleged whistleblower has evidence against him and other opposition figures in the alleged ouster plan against the President.

“If they have a solid case against me, I will just refute it in court,” Trillanes said, noting that “Bikoy” has not even executed an affidavit or sworn statement.

Trillanes said Advincula might be airing his allegations through the media to provoke him into reacting.

“Well, I’m not about to fall into that trap. Execute an affidavit, file it in court and I will debunk it there. Bikoy is forgetting that if he has evidence, so do we. This is the real deal. We can’t do with adjustable evidence,” the outgoing senator said.

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