Senate legal counsel reviews ethics complaint vs Sotto

MANILA — Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Monday said the ethics complaint filed against Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III for the controversial remark he made about single mothers is now being reviewed by the Senate legal counsel.

“Ni-refer ko muna ang ethics complaint against him sa legal counsel ng Senate. Di malinaw dahil ang alleged violation, misdemeanor, na-commit as a CA (Commission on Appointments) member. May sariling disciplinary mechanism ang CA. Di lang nako-constitute,” Lacson told reporters in an interview.

(“I referred the ethics complaint against him to the legal counsel of the Senate. It is not clear because the alleged violation, misdemeanor was committed by him as a CA member. The CA has its own disciplinary mechanism, it’s just not being constituted.”)

Lacson said he wanted to clarify if the Senate Committee on Ethics would be encroaching the CA if the ethics complaint would be reviewed.

He also said that if the ethics complaint would be resolved immediately, Sotto will no longer have to take a leave of absence as chair of the Senate Committee on Ethics.

“…I will urge him to resume his duties as ethics chairman. Kasi sa CA naman yan. Pagka na-clarify ng Senate counsel. At saka of course ng counsel ng CA (Once the Senate counsel clarifies this. And of course, the counsel of the CA)?” Lacson said.

“Pag sinabi nila ang jurisdiction sa CA, there’s no reason for Sen. Sotto to take a leave of absence sa Senate (If they say the jurisdiction is in the CA, there’s no reason for Sen. Sotto to take a leave of absence from the Senate),” he added.

Last May 10, an ethics complaint was filed against Sotto for his controversial remark about single parents in a previous hearing with the CA.

During the hearing on the confirmation of Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo last May 3, Sotto cracked a joke about her admitting to being a single mother which caused a public stir.

A coalition of women’s groups filed the five-page complaint before the Senate Committee on Ethics, which Sotto chairs.

The complaint said that Sotto “undermined national policies that have underpinned laws such as The Solo Parents Welfare Act (Republic Act 8972) and the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act 9710).”

It also said that he “manifested that he views single/solo mothers as less-than others; demeaning and disparaging women in the same position and making them easy targets of jokes and ridicule.”

Sotto, for his part, said that once he receives an official copy of the complaint, he will file an indefinite leave and allow Lacson, Vice Chair of the Committee, Panfilo Lacson to take over.

“I’m Ethics Chairman and there’s a complaint against me. It’s only proper that I file a leave out of delicadeza. I definitely have that,” Sotto previously said. Azer Parrocha/PNA