MANILA (Mabuhay) — A lawmaker has formally withdrawn his motion to cite in contempt the newspaper reporter who bared the alleged bribery to lawmakers to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in the House of Representatives.
Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga withdrew his motion after getting confirmation from The Standard senior reporter Christine Herrera that he wasn’t among those who benefitted from the alleged bribery.
On Tuesday, Barzaga grilled Herrera for more than 20 minutes during the third hearing of the House committee on good government and public accountability on the controversy
Upon questioning by Barzaga, Herrera said five of the 10 House members whom she talked to regarding the alleged bribery attempt on lawmakers claimed receiving bribes in exchange for voting favorably on the Bangsamoro bill.
The other five, however, said they were not approached by anyone in an attempt to bribe them, she said.
Asked by Barzaga if he was among the lawmakers who had admitted to Herrera about receiving a bribe, the reporter said she never interviewed him because he has been vocal about his intention to resign from the House if it were proven that he was bribed.
“I’ve already heard you saying all over the radio that you would resign if it’s been proven that you accepted any amount. There’s no need to [interview you],” she said.
After questioning Herrera further on the details of her stories on the alleged BBL payola, Barzaga said he will no longer cite her in contempt.
“I have defended my position. I will no longer pursue my motion to cite her in contempt,” he said.
In the previous hearing last June 16, Barzaga threatened to cite Herrera in contempt for refusing to name her sources from the House of Representatives and Bureau of Immigration and Deportation for her stories on the alleged payoff of House members.
He eventually rephrased his motion and agreed to give Herrera until the next hearing to name her sources.
A series of reports written by Herrera for The Standard earlier this month alleged that Chinese fugitive Wang Bo shelled out P100 million as bribe to BI officials to sign his release papers.
The report also claimed that Wang gave $10 million for Malacañang to bribe lawmakers for the BBL’s passage.
The allegation, however, was denied by BI Commissioner Siegfred Mison and Deputy Immigration Commissioners Abdullah Mangotara and Gilbert Repizo, who favored granting Wang temporary liberty.
Beijing had asked Bo to be deported last March 5 but Wang’s camp filed for a motion for reconsideration. He was eventually taken off the government’s blacklist.
The Chinese Embassy in Manila then made another request for deportation after Beijing cancelled Bo’s passport and submitted additional documents to the BI to prove that he is a fugitive.
Mison voted in favor of the Chinese Embassy’s renewed request to deport the Chinese, but he was outvoted by Mangotara and Repizo.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, however, issued an order holding Wang’s release in abeyance pending the completion of the investigation on the alleged bribery attempt. (MNS)