By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News
MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Sonny Belmonte vowed on Wednesday to protect the integrity of the Lower Chamber as it deals with the fallout from the illegal drugs case of Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson.
“We would like due process to be followed and integrity and prestige of [the] House to be preserved,” he said.
Belmonte also dismissed observations that the commission of the offense overseas may affect the validity of the disciplinary action against Singson in the Philippines. However, he remained cautious about influencing the Hong Kong court.
“Definitely, it doesn’t matter [that it] happened overseas. On that respect, tama yung minority. Let me say again, as far as I’m concerned, we will have due process we will see this through. I’m not about to say anything that influences the way they do things in Hong Kong.”
For now, the House ethics committee has started its proceedings, and Belmonte assured that he will turn over relevant documents to the committee.
He also asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to get copies of court proceedings and decisions in Hong Kong.
Belmonte, however, held out the possibility that Singson may be asked to resign informally.
When asked about past practice of the leadership asking erring congressmen to resign to spare the House from the divisive ethics proceeding, Belmonte said, “We have no control over the party. Kung ano gusto niya gawin, ganito ganyan.”
Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, however, maintained that the commission of the offense in Hong Kong is not material to the matter of Singson’s stint in Congress.
“Whether the offense is here or abroad is not material because the requirements of being of good standing does not choose particular territory. Moreover, to my mind, drug offenses should be global offenses. That should cover instance both in the Philippines.”
Lagman conceded that getting the required 2/3 vote of the 283-member House remains uncertain.
“That’s another problem. Because you need an extraordinary majority of House to expel or suspend a member. We will have to contend with the extraordinary vote… Whether we surmount it is a big question mark.”
Zambales Rep. Mitos Magsaysay said ethics proceedings will proceed even before the case in Hong Kong ends.
Lagman said the minority bloc members will discuss their stand in their next weekly meeting on Monday.
Singson is a member of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD but is with the majority in the Lower House.
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