Saturday, October 15, 2016

Toff respects Speaker’s decision not to suspend Espino, Villafuerte

By Mortz C. Ortigoza

MANGALDAN – Pangasinan’s Congressman Christopher de Venecia respected the decision of House of Representatives’ Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez not to heed the order of the Sandiganbayan to suspend Representatives Amado T. Espino and Luis Raymund Villafuerte.
NEW MULTIPURPOSE GYM. Fourth District’s House Representative Christopher “Toff” 
de Venecia (black jacket) prepared to cut the ceremonial ribbon last Friday with officials
 of Barangay Guesang, Mangaldan and town’s public officials after he graced the 
inauguration of the P3.1 million multi-purpose covered court. PHOTO: Mortz C. Ortigoza

Espino represented the Fifth District of Pangasinan while Villafuerte is the congressman of Camarines Sur.
De Venecia, known as Toff, implored the understanding of the public that the House of Representatives just like its equal but separate counterpart the Supreme Court has its own rules how to deal with its members who were ordered suspended by the Sandiganbayan, a government anti-graft court that deals with public officials.
“Kasi the same thing with Chief Justice (Maria Lourdes) Sereno who called for the autonomy from the other branches of government. She has the power to discipline her people. The same also for the legislative branch so ang pinag-aaralan namin ni Speaker Alvarez lahat ng possible action that he can take”.
Congressmen Espino and Villafuerte were meted by the Sandigabayan with 90 days preventive suspension after the former was accused of graft in connection with the alleged illegal black sand mining activity in Lingayen Gulf during his term as the governor of Pangasinan while the latter was charged with his alleged anomalous P20-million fuel purchase he supposedly made as governor of Camarines.
Villafuerte questioned the anti-graft body for suspending him because he could no longer intimidate witnesses or tamper with evidence by his continued stay in office since he was no longer governor but a solon at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.
Espino said that the suspension deprives him with his inherent right to attend sessions or meetings, but also leaves his constituents with no representation in Congress, especially these charges have been filed when he was a governor of Pangasinan, one of the excerpts of his motion to the court.

De Venecia cited his father former Speaker Jose de Venecia was fined with P10,000 by the Sandiganbayan when he did not follow the graft court’s suspension order against then Agusan del Sur Congressman Ceferino S. Paredes, Jr. in 1997.
Majority leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rudy Farinas cited before media men that the August Chamber in its history has never implemented a suspension order by the Sandigan to its members as the leadership insisted on its power to discipline them.
The young De Venecia said he did not know what other measures the Speaker would be doing to placate the members of the graft court that insisted on the suspension of the two solons.
Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. cited last month that there was a consensus during the- all- party -caucus called by the Speaker to protect the image of the House amid the suspension for graft of the duo.
“Definitely everything was consulted kasi iba ang culture ngayon ng Congress very dynamic ang party. First time even na nagkaroon ng all members to decide on such matter which Congressman Villafuerte and Congressman Espino have been given a chance to defend their cases sa mga members”.
Unlike the House of Representatives, the House of the Senate in the past heeded the order of the Sandiganbayan when it ordered Senators Ramon Revilla, Jr. Jinggoy Estrada,  Juan Ponce Enrile, and JV Ejercito suspended.
Meanwhile, Representative de Venecia said that pork barrel was already a thing of the past.
“A congressman used to have a say before how to spend the (seventy millions of pesos a year) pork allocated to him. He could buy a car or construct a basketball court for some barangays, he could do them all,” he spoke recently at the inauguration of the new Php 3.1 million multi-purpose covered court in Barangay Guesang here.

Presently, he cited, all the projects that are included in the eighty million pesos allocation yearly for a congressman have been pre-approved by the executive department before Congress approved them.

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