House to probe two members for unethical conduct

Published October 6, 2018, 2:40 PM

by Patrick Garcia

By Ben Rosario

The probe on two partylist solons facing public accusations of unethical conduct as members of the House of Representatives will be conducted publicly, a member of the House Committee on Ethics has revealed.

The Joint Session of the Senate and the House of Representatives on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao commences in the Plenary of the Batasang Pambansa on December 13, 2017. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

Initial discussions of the cases of Reps. Aniceto “John” Bertiz Jr. (ACTS-OFW) and Tricia Velasco-Catera (Ang Mata Partylist) were conducted in an executive session by the ethics panel on Tuesday.

However, a member of the committee who requested anonymity said the ethics body will be transparent in its conduct of the probes into the separate cases involving the two lawmakers.

Bertiz initiated the ethics probe in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport incident that was video-recorded and posted on social media. In the video footage, he was shown having an altercation with an airport security man over his alleged refusal to undergo security protocol of removing shoes as part of security check.

In filing House Resolution No. 2212, Bertiz said he called for an investigation as he “realized that he may have manifested a conduct uncalled for a public official”.

Nevertheless, Bertiz had apologized for the incident that earned him widespread public criticism.

On the other hand, Catera was accused of “unbecoming acts that make a mockery of her duties” as a member of the Lower House for allegedly conducting Gluta-drip sessions in her office.

In a complaint filed before the ethics panel chaired by Rep.Delphine Gan Lee, the Piinoy Aksyon on Governance and the Environment (PinoyAksyon) called for the imposition of disciplinary sanctions against Catera, daughter of retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco.

“As a representative of the health sector and vice chair of the House Committee on health, more is expected of her in this regard and she could not be seen as promoting medical practices that may very well endanger the lives and welfare of Filipinos,” said Bency Ellorin, chairman of PAGE.

PAGE is the same group that has pushed for the disqualification of Catera’s partylist organization in the partylist elections. It is also the same organization that called for a reinvestigation of the plunder charges filed against former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in connection with the Philippine Internaitonal Air Terminas Company Inc. deal.

The Office of the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court have already cleared Alvarez of any wrongdoing in connection with the allegedly anomalous airport deal.

PAGE’s move for reinvestigation coincided with the Lower House investigation into last year’s impeachment complaint against then SC Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno.