Ethics panel won't rush Singson's case-A A +A
Thursday, February 24, 2011
MANILA (2nd Update, 4:45 p.m.) -- The House ethics panel will wait for the official documents from the Wan Chai District Court in Hong Kong before it decides on the possible expulsion of Ilocos Sur Representative Ronald Singson.
Singson on Thursday was sentenced to 18 months in prison for bringing cocaine into the southern Chinese territory for his personal use.
He was caught with 0.24 ounces (6.67 grams) of cocaine in July while transiting through Hong Kong's airport en route to the gambling enclave of Macau. He had pleaded guilty to a charge of trafficking in a dangerous drug.
Under Hong Kong law, bringing drugs into the territory can be defined as trafficking, regardless of the purpose. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment and a fine of five million Hong Kong dollars ($640,000).
The Philippine congressman, however, claimed that the drugs were intended for his own consumption.
Hong Kong District Court Judge Joseph Yau sided with Singson, saying he did not think the Philippine politician needed to sell drugs given his wealth from various business interests.
Yau added that Singson did not have any friends in Hong Kong or Macau he was likely to share the drugs with.
The judge, however, found that Singson likely exaggerated his level of drug use to justify his claim.
Despite the ruling, ethics chair and Bohol Representative Erico Aumentado told Sun.Star that they assure due process to Singson and complainant lawyer Fernando Perito.
"We are still waiting for official court documents on Singson case to guide the committee's actions," he said.
Perito filed a complaint against the legislator before the House Committee on Ethics.
Hearings on Singson's case will start next week, March 1.
In a television interview, Ilocos Sur Governor Luis "Chavit" Singson said his son might resign as member of the House of Representatives following the court's decision.
"I think so. Di niya lang masabi noon dahil ayaw niya unahan ang court," said Chavit.
The elder Singson, his wife and other children attended Wednesday's hearing, as did Philippine actress Lovi Poe, the younger Singson's girlfriend.
Congressman Singson told reporters after the hearing that he was nervous about his fate.
"We're very hopeful but anything can still happen," he said. "Of course I am still praying for a light sentence." (Kathrina Alvarez/AP/Sunnex)