Lacson Will Hear Ethics Cases Simultaneously

Putting brawn on the Senate committee on ethics, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson today said he would conduct concurrent hearings on at least three complaints pending before the Senate body. 

Interviewed over radio, Lacson said he will meet with the members of the committee at 1 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the rules and procedures to be adopted for the swift and impartial conduct of the hearings. He said the rules have to be updated and published anew in the official gazette.

Lacson said the preliminary hearings would probably start by first week of February and if probable cause is found, the proceedings will be elevated into a full-blown trial in accordance with the committee’s adjudicatory function.

Presently pending before the committee are resolutions filed by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago regarding the November 2007 Manila Peninsula siege involving fellow Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.

Also with the committee are resolutions filed by Lacson and Senator Joker Arroyo seeking to unmask who was behind the alleged leak of information during the executive session with former National Economic Development Authority chairman Romulo Neri in connection with the $329.48-million ZTE broadband deal mess.

Third is the ethics case against Senator Manuel Villar which stemmed from a complaint lodged by Senator Ana Consuelo Madrigal over alleged conflict of interest involving the C-5 road extension project between Parañaque and the South Luzon Expressway.

Lacson said that while the subjects of the complaints will have due process, he will not let the minority bloc’s “snub” of the ethics committee stymie the investigations.

“The decision of the Senate in the plenary is we can proceed and we cannot be held hostage (by the minority). I have sent a notice to minority leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., being an ex-officio member, and it is up to him to attend. I did not send notices to the minority members anymore. We cannot be kept from functioning just because the minority refuses to name representatives to the ethics committee,” he said.