Press Release
January 25, 2010


The minority bloc of senators is standing by its position that Sen. Manuel Villar should be cleared of the charges against him in connection with the C-5 road extension project as embodied in a resolution originally signed by 12 senators, Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today said.

Pimentel also disclaimed any knowledge or participation in an alleged plot to unseat Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile while he was in Geneva, Switzerland attending the meetings of the committee on the human rights of parliamentarians of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on Jan. 18 to 21.

From the start, he said the minority senators opted not to participate in the hearings on the ethics complaint against Villar because they believe that the investigation rules were not followed and the rights of the respondent to a fair and impartial trial had been impaired.

"If the process was wrong, then the outcome of the investigation would also be wrong. The rules should be upheld. For without proper rules, they would just insist on what they wanted," he said.

Pimentel said that as they have expected, what the rivals and detractors of Villar in the Senate are doing is to create the impression that he had committed wrongdoing because they are pursuing a partisan political agenda.

"This is not just legal and judicial proceedings. There is partisan politics involved here," he said Pimentel said many of the investigators of the compliant against Villar were not expected to be impartial because they were his adversaries in the presidential race. He noted that even the complainant, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, declared her presidential candidacy while the investigation was in progress.

He said that while in Geneva, he learned about the purported coup plot only from a text messages and phone calls of newsmen asking for his reaction. On the report attributed to Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that "senator now in Europe" was also involved, he said it is not true that he was one of the alleged coup instigators.

On the report that Sen. Edgardo Angara was being eyed to replace Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, Pimentel said he has not had any communication with Angara.

"Angara and I did not talk at all," he said.

Pimentel said he saw no need to elect a new Senate president or to extend the term of incumbent senators and congressmen to prevent a vacuum in the political leadership in case of a failure of the 2010 elections.

"I do not believe that there will be a failure of elections. In our country, it may be true that elections may fail in certain areas. But I do not believe that all the automated voting machines will fail. However, we do not proclaim a winning presidential candidate on the basis of a majority vote. A candidate who obtained a plurarity vote emerges as the winner. In other words, the candidate with the highest number of votes, but not necessarily a majority vote, is proclaimed the new president," he said.

Moreover, he noted the assurance of the Commission on Elections that in case an automated elections is not possible nationwide, they can still resort to manual elections provided they are given at least two months to prepare.

Pimentel said that assuming there is an absolute necessity to have a new Senate president, the highest vote getter among the l2 senators with a term good until 2013 can assume the position. But since Sen. Loren Legarda, the topnotcher in the 2007 senatorial election, is running for vice president, the senator with the second biggest number of votes, Francis Escudero, can assume the Senate presidency.

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