Senators dismayed over alleged leakage of information from session on Duterte’s CIF

(ABS-CBN) MANILA — Some Philippine senators on Tuesday expressed their dismay over the alleged leak of sensitive information from their executive session in the previous day.

During the executive session, senators discussed the confidential and intelligence funds of the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education, led by Vice President Sara Duterte.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada made a manifestation at the plenary expressing dismay about the news reports naming eight to nine senators who allegedly wanted to restore the confidential and intelligence funds of Duterte and the DepEd.

Estrada did not name the media outfit that ran the story about the leaked information from the Senate’s executive session, but stressed that there is as clear violation of the rules on confidentiality.

“Yesterday, just before we entered… much to my dismay, there was a news report that identified 8 or 9 senators who wanted to restore the confidential and intel fund of the VP and Deped,” said Estrada.

“I wish to tell that there was no votation that happened with regard to the intel fund of the VP and Deped. In fact, we had an executive session,” he added.

“I do not know who leaked our conversation to this media outlet. This is the first time that I encountered a leakage. I do not want to name names, this is a violation of our rules.”

According to Estrada, there is no truth to the leaked information that senators have already voted in favor of the reinstatement of the confidential and intelligence funds of the VP and DepEd. 

In fact, Estrada stressed that they unanimously agreed to remove all the secret funds of the OVP and other civilian agencies. 

“We never voted with regard to all the intelligence and confidential funds. In fact, we agreed unanimously to remove all the confidential and intelligence funds not only that of the Vice President but all civilian agencies na merong confi and intel funds,” Estrada adds.

Estrada said that based on the story written by an online media outlet, included in the list of those who allegedly voted in favor of the OVP and DepEd’s confidential and Intelligence funds include: Senators Robin Padilla, Bong Go, Bong Revilla Jr., Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Jinggoy Estrada, Lito Lapid, Francis Tolentino and Cynthia Villar.

“I will just read, first on the list, Padilla, Go, Revilla, Dela Rosa, Estrada, Lapid, Tolentino and Villar. They are putting us in a bad light, I condemned this, I take offense of this. Nakalagay pa that Sen. Pia Cayetano is said to be supportive of reinstating Duterte’s confidential funds if she can justify the need for them, this is not true,” said Estrada.

Estrada added that a scooper told this media outlet that senators Angara, Escudero, Tulfo, Pimentel and Hontiveros are allegedly against the reinstatement of Duterte’s secret allocation which are lodged under the OVP and DepEd.

He felt insulted and made a recommendation to summon the media outlet to the Senate and let them explain.

“Mali-mali po itong report. I think Sen. Angara must not be included in this list. Tumayo po ako dahil masamang-masama po ang loob ko. I really felt insulted. I stand before you, I want to make this recommendation to summon this media outlet and ask them who among us violated our rules. Who among us leaked what transpired in our executive session yesterday,” Estrada told the senate.

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri also expressed disappointment and emphasized the importance of following their own rules in the senate.

Zubiri also denied that they already voted during their executive session with regard to the confidential and intelligence funds issue on Monday.

“I do am very disappointed. When we say executive session, we are bound by rules of both House of Representatives and rules of the senate. We had a healthy discussion, there was no voting to begin with… We were unanimous that the good gentleman from Aurora will be presenting today. I’m very alarmed, we had a meeting because of the implications of leakages during the executive session,” Zubiri said.

For Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, what was written by the said media outlet was just “tsismis” and there was no leakage of information.

“The account is not accurate, I hope Sen. Jinggoy… part of what happened, the facts contained in the article is not a leak, tsismis yun, so there is no leak to speak of, really, with respect to what really truly transpired in the executive session. An attempt perhaps to create a story about it, I confirm that it was the unanimous position of the senate, what Sen. Angara will be sponsoring today, that was the unanimous position of the senate and all the members of the senate,” Escudero said. 

Senate Majority Floor Leader Senator Joel Villanueva said this issue is not just about “tsismis” but more of the sanctity of every executive session of the senate.

“It’s not just the leak or tsismis. It’s more of the sanctity of the executive session. We continue to perform our duties here in the Senate. Eh papano tayo pagtitiwalaan ng taong-bayan kung ang ating executive session ay nangyayari yung mga ganitong pangyayari, “ Villanueva said.

Zubiri also emphasized that among the rules of the Senate is that the senate president, senators and all the employees of the upper chamber are required to refrain from divulging any sensitive information from the executive session. 

Senate Minority Leader Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, meanwhile said, the written article online lacks details and information.

“Tama yun pero kulang, kasi ako sinasabi ko, tanggalin din ang intel funds ng OP. Kulang yung report, kasi the OP is a civilian office not an armed agency and not a uniformed agency,” Pimentel said.

Meanwhile, Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa expressed concern that the leaked information only creates distrust among them. He added this tarnished the image of the Philippine Senate.

He also wants to invite the media outlet who allegedly made the story out of the leaked information and let them explain their side. Dela Rosa even warned to cite in contempt officials of the media outlet if found lying.

“This is not a laughing matter, this is serious. Filipino people are watching us right now, sabihin nila, ganyan na pala senado ngayon hindi mapagkatiwalaan, sila-sila nag-uusap magli-leak pa sa media. It is very dangerous,“Dela Rosa said.

The Senate referred the manifestation of Dela Rosa to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges for proper investigation.