Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Chavez, Gordon clash over Cam

By Efren L. Danao, MT Senior Reporter and Patricia Esteves, Reporter

Emotions ran high Tuesday at the Senate inquiry into the proliferation of jueteng after former Solicitor General Frank Chavez protested the way Sen. Richard Gordon was questioning his client Sandra Cam, and Gordon asked that Chavez be cited for contempt.

“If they want to declare me in contempt of the Senate, then so be it. But I’d rather be declared in contempt of the Senate than be in contempt of justice,” Chavez told reporters after the hearing.

Sen. Manuel Villar, cochair of the hearing with Sen. Lito Lapid, did not act on Gordon’s motion to cite Chavez for contempt before adjourning the hearing.

Villar said the motion has to be acted upon by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, which he heads, and the Committee on Games, Amusement and Sports, headed by Lapid. The two committees will meet Thursday to discuss and other issues related to the hearing.

Ironically, the flare-up took place after Gordon had complained that the hearings had been droning on and with some witnesses even being insulted. He had wanted an immediate end to the hearings because he believed the committee had gathered enough materials to recommend prosecution by the Ombudsman and to come out with a recommended legislation.

Gordon was asking Cam if she knew some persons and if she had been charged with violations of the bouncing checks law and forcible entry. Chavez protested that Gordon was “derogating” Cam.

“His pattern of questioning was meant to create distrust in my client. He was already arguing with my client, who is a resource person. When a senator argues with a resource person, then the resource person is at a disadvantage,” Chavez explained later.

Gordon shrugged off Cha­vez’s flare-up, saying it was a lawyer’s technique whenever a client gets caught.

“I am a lawyer. Am I supposed to accept all her words?” he asked.

Cam was the only one among the witnesses presented by Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan to testify that she had personally delivered jueteng payoffs to Rep. Mikey Arroyo of Pampanga and Rep. Ignacio Arroyo of Negros Occidental.

She was crying when Villar suspended the hearing. She said later she would court being cited for contempt by the Senate should Gordon do the same thing again to her in the next hearing.

Cruz announced he would present two witnesses who will testify that jueteng payoffs funded attempts to rig last year’s presidential election.

Cruz said their disclosure would be more damaging than the supposed wiretaps of the President talking to an election official while the ballots were still being counted.

Cruz vouched for the credibility of the witnesses, who he said are former politicians.

He said they had attended group meetings before the elections and witnessed the exchange of money to fund election returns that would be used in rigging the poll results.

Asked if the witnesses would implicate Mrs. Arroyo in their testimony, Cruz replied, “I can’t say right now but I just know that they’re telling the truth.”


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