Trillanes: Gordon wants to prove loyalty to Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — Senator Richard Gordon is cozying up to the President through his position in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said Tuesday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source, Trillanes would "willingly and wholeheartedly" face the ethics complaint Gordon filed against him.

"Senator Gordon wants me expelled for that particular episode. How petty is that?" said Trillanes.

"He wants to protect his political patron, which is Duterte. He wants to show him that he is the most loyal subject in the Senate," he added.

Gordon filed an ethics complaint against Trillanes after the two went head to head at a Senate hearing on August 31. This was when Trillanes moved to summon the presidential son and Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte to clear allegations that he was involved in corruption at the Bureau of Customs.

Gordon, who chairs the committee, dismissed the allegations as "hearsay" and took offense at Trillanes' remark that he ran a "comite de absuelto," or a body absolving the accused of wrongdoing.

Related: Senate committee finds Gordon's ethics complaint vs. Trillanes sufficient in form and substance

Trillanes has been a harsh critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration, slamming the war on drugs and accusing the younger Duterte of being a member of a Chinese drug triad.

When asked if he thought he would be expelled, Trillanes answered, "Senator Gordon can fantasize about that scenario, but it's not gonna happen."

He added that he trusts in the "wisdom and good judgment" of his colleagues in the Senate.

"Will the other senators go along with him? I think not," said Trillanes.

Trillanes is also preparing an ethics complaint against Gordon, which he is expecting to file in "a week or two."

Trillanes stands by 'Comite de absuelto' comment

The senator also clarified his "comite de absuelto" remark, which he said was aimed at Gordon alone. Trillanes added that the comment did not use offensive language, which was prohibited by the Senate rules.

"It may have bruised the ego of Mr. Gordon, but that's his problem," he added.

He also defended his "observation," arguing it had basis.

The younger Duterte eventually appeared in Senate on September 7, but Trillanes said it was only after Gordon "felt the public pressure and outrage."

"After the President himself said, you may go... that's the time Gordon allowed it to happen. So it's an afterthought," he said.

Trillanes accused the younger Duterte of being a member of a drug triad, citing a supposed tattoo on his back as proof of membership. While the vice mayor admitted to having a tattoo, he refused to show it.

The senator also said that as chair of the Blue Ribbon Committee, Gordon "has a history of clearing... high officials in government." The committee is charged with investigating corruption and the accountability of public officers.

"He defended [Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] and the other senior officials when he was Chairman of the Blue Ribbon Committee then," Trillanes recalled.

"He cleared Duterte in the [extrajudicial killing] hearings when he replaced Senator De Lima. He cleared Secretary Aguirre and the other high officials of government in the Bureau of Immigration bribery scandal. So there was a basis in that term."

Gordon, who replaced now-detained administration critic Leila De Lima as chair of the Justice Committee, was tasked with conducting investigations into a spate of killings following the war on drugs. The Senate report released in December last year found no connection between Duterte and the killings.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre was also cleared by the Blue Ribbon Committee, which ruled the Bureau of Immigration scandal involved "extortion" instead. The Senate report last March pinned the liability on former deputy commissioners Al Argosino and Michael Robles.

Trillanes on Monday also signed waivers opening up alleged offshore bank accounts to prove he was not hiding any wealth. He challenged the President to do the same.