MANILA, Philippines – Senators from the majority bloc, who said a copy of a Senate resolution calling on the government to stop killing minors did not reach their offices, on Wednesday complained about a blog that called them “Malacañang dogs” for not signing the said document.
Among the lawmakers is Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who said he would file a cyber-libel case against those behind the “stupid and silly” blog published by Silent No More PH.
“I have never seen this shadow of this resolution. Hindi dumaan sa opisina ko ‘yan pagkatapos [That did not reach my office then they would say that] I did not sign?” Sotto said in his privilege speech.
“I will request to direct the Senate secretariat to investigate who’s behind prostituting this resolution and use the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) Cybercrime Division because I will be very kind. I will just file a cyber libel case against these people,” he added.
Sotto said it was obvious that the resolution was being used to “destroy” him, Senate president Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and senators Richard Gordon, Cynthia Villar, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, and Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan.
The blog urged Filipinos to show their outrage against the seven senators, saying their failure to sign the resolution meant that, “Their loyalty is to the Palace, not to Filipino people whose votes gave them mandate to begin with,” the blog said.
“These senators’ votes are reflective of their stance: They don’t care about lives. They don’t want to hold this government accountable. They only care about their alliance with Malacañang,” it noted.
“These are the senators who will block any action that would investigate the sins of the government. These are the senators whose silence lead(s) to continuous murder of poor and innocent children,” the blog added.
Pangilinan drafted resolution that did not reach senators’ offices
Like Sotto, the other senators said it was impossible for them to sign something that they were not able to read because they were not furnished a copy of the resolution.
The lawmakers being attacked in the blog later learned that Senate Resolution No. 518 urging the government to stop extrajudicial killings especially of children was drafted by Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, who gave copies of the document only to 15 Senate members.
Pangilinan said he had no intention to put other senators in a bad light and only decided to file the resolution because it already had enough signatures, and he was in a hurry to leave.
“If other senators felt that there was an attempt not to include them that is not the case. We did not intentionally exclude anyone. It’s just that at that point, I had to leave early. Considering we had several session days to go, there are, we decided let’s go ahead and file it,” Pangilinan said.
Pimentel said he never saw the resolution himself. He said he was not just against the killing of minors but also of Filipinos in general and foreigners.
Also, Pacquiao said he would have signed the resolution if he had the opportunity to do so because he was also opposed to killings, especially of minors.
Gordon, who described the blog as “cowardly,”likewise said he would have signed Pangilinan’s resolution had he seen it.
‘Stabbed in the back’
Meanwhile, Zubiri said that having a resolution passed around without their knowledge felt like being “stabbed in the back.”
He said he and the six other senators who failed to sign Pangilinan’s resolution had filed their own resolution condemning the killings.
Villar said she and her colleagues “did not refuse to sign” the resolution but “were not asked to sign.”
“Somebody from media told me two senators are going to destroy us. It’s only when I saw that blog when I started thinking maybe this is the beginning,” Villar said.
She later disclosed that the two senators that the media allegedly referred to were Paolo Benigno Aquino IV and Ana Theresia “Risa” Hontiveros.
Risa: No plot vs colleagues
Hontiveros denied that she and Aquino were plotting against any of their colleagues.
“I categorically deny that and appreciate what Senator Cynthia said na hindi siya naniwala [that she didn’t believe it). It is totally untrue. It is not the start of anything at all,” she said.
For his part, Aquino said, “‘Yong dami ng pirma [the number of signatures] indicates how many are supportive, but those who do not sign it doesn’t matter because you only need one person to file it.”
“It is not indicative of whether the senators who did not sign are supportive or not,” he added.
Aquino said all senators had been victims of bashing and fake news. He shared the outrage of senators who failed to sign the resolution and said that he was hoping that all senators would come together to support moves to investigate extrajudicial killings more thoroughly.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joel Villanueva reiterated his call to pass a law that would put an end to the proliferation of false information.
“The epidemic of malicious fake news especially online should not be taken lightly.
It’s time to tackle Senate Bill No. 1492 or the Anti-Fake News Bill to promote responsible use of social media and other platforms,” Villanueva said in a statement issued Wednesday.
“Hence, we will ask the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media chaired by Sen. Grace Poe to include our bill when the Committee holds an inquiry on the said malicious post,” he added.
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