Press Release
February 1, 2010


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today said the minority senators are ready to debate and vote on the committee report on the C-5 road issue involving Sen. Manuel Villar.

Pimentel agreed that the senators should discuss the report in a sober manner and to refrain from using unparliamentary, inflammatory and offensive language to enable them to arrive at an intelligent and fair judgment and to dispose of the case once and for all.

"All that we really want from the majority is for the position of all sides to be ventilated and heard. If they want to revive the issue, we can debate it until doomsday. In other words, we are not going to back out from the challenge to disprove the allegations of the majority. That is our right," he said.

Pimentel said that if the majority wants to resume the discussion on the C-5 issue on Wednesday, instead of Monday (the last day of session before adjournment), the minority is amenable to this timetable. He said they agree that the approval of urgent bills should take precedence over the report.

However, he said the proceedings may take three days or more because there will be good number of senators who may wish to interpellate Senate Juan Ponce Enrile, the sponsor of the committee report, and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, the sponsor of the resolution filed by minority senators exonerating Villar.

Pimentel said they do not want to leave the case hanging because this may be used by the opponents of Villar to make it appear he was guilty of wrongdoing.

He said it is very possible that the majority will prefer the case to be left unresolved before the Senate adjourns for the long election break. In the first place, he said it will be very difficult for them to muster the required number of votes to secure approval.

On the other hand, he said the minority will block any attempt by the majority to railroad the adoption of the report and pronounce Villar guilty.

At least two members of the majority may not be around during Monday's session. Senate President Protempore Jinggoy Estrada is reportedly in the United States for personal reasons while Sen. Panfilo Lacson has yet to notify the secretariat whether he will now show up after being absent during all three days of session last week.

On the part of the minority, Pimentel said he believes that they can muster enough votes to reject the committee report on the C-5 and to dismiss the charges against Villar.

However, he said it is Cayetano who has been assigned by the minority to make a headcount of senator who will absolve Villar.

Meanwhile, Pimentel disowned anew any role in the alleged coup plot against Enrile. He said he was in Geneva attending the meetings of Interparliamentary Union's committee on the human rights of parliamentarians when the purported plot was hatched.

He said he has not talked to or contacted any senator about the alleged coup.

"As a matter of fact, up to now, I haven't seen the supposed resolution for the removal of Enrile as Senate head," the minority leader said.

Pimentel said that while he was not calling for Enrile's ouster or resignation, there is a valid point behind the reasoning that somebody whose term of office will be good until 2013 should replace him. But he said in order the elect a new Senate president, 13 votes are needed.

He noted that even Villar is reportedly against the removal of Enrile.

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