Denies using gov't resources in his marital row
MANILA - Refusing to heed advice from the Office of the President, Deputy National Security Adviser Luis Singson said he would not voluntarily go on leave and denied he used government resources in his marital conflict.
In a long distance telephone interview with ABS-CBN News and dzMM on Monday, Singson said he will not go on leave despite getting an advice from the Palace that he should do so out of delicadeza.
"Hindi ako magleleave dahil inosente ako diyan. Ako ang biktima rito. Hindi ako mag-leleave," Singson told dzMM in an interview with Vic Lima and Karen Davila.
Singson said he has not spoken with Mrs. Arroyo since the wife battering and torture allegations against him came up last week. He said the Office of the President can fire him if it wants to.
"Puwede nila akong tanggalin kung gusto nila," he said.
President Arroyo has ordered National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales to investigate whether Singson misused government resources to case his wife and her boyfriend.
Singson admitted he had his wife investigated since he discovered her alleged affairs, but he indicated this was a private investigation.
He denied he used resources of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) for his domestic conflict, saying his office is too poor for this purpose.
"No, never. Hindi na kailangan gamitin," he said. "Pinasundan ko sa nag-susurvey. Hindi ko opisina yan e. Walang kaalam-alam ang opisina ko dahil opisina ko napakahirap. Yung 2 secretary ko up to now hindi sumusuweldo [sa gobyerno] e."
In one instance, Singson said the men he had ordered to follow and investigate his wife and her boyfriend nearly killed them both had he not intervened and told them not to do so.
"Kung wala ako doon, baka napatay na yung dalawa. Kung di ako dumating doon, namatay na sila," he said, denying that these people were not his bodyguards.
He also said he believes that wife battering is bad, pointing out that he had given Tiongson a chance.
Gonzales, meanwhile, said he will be talking to Singson Monday night upon his arrival from China. He clarified that Singson is not yet under investigation, adding that he considers his deputy's marital troubles as a personal tragedy.
"This is a very personal issue so maybe before I say anything I want to talk to him first and listen to his side. I can order an undersecretary to take a leave if it is needed. Chavit is one of our our most seasoned politciians. He can understand what is happening, how our situation is constantly evolving and the implications of his case...He may make his own decision on what is best for everyone," he told radio dzMM.
He added that he personally called up President Arroyo and told her that he wanted to speak to Singson.
He also said he does not believe that Singson would use government resources to spy on his wife. "Chavit has a lot of resources so it won't be surprising if he used his own. Besides, I would immediately know if he used government resources and so far no one has reported anything to me," he said.
Take a leave out of delicadeza
President Arroyo on Monday said she was "alarmed and seriously concerned" about the wife-battering charges leveled against Singson, and advised the official to voluntarily take a leave of absence out of delicadeza.
In a press conference, deputy presidential spokeswoman Lorelei Fajardo assured the public that justice will be served in the ongoing marital row between the 68-year-old Singson and Tiongson.
"The President as a woman as well as the head of our government is alarmed and seriously concerned by such charges against a person who is regarded as part of her circle, though not part of her official family,” Fajardo said in her opening statement.
While no administrative case has been filed against Singson, Fajardo said the former Ilocos Sur governor could take a leave of absence "out of delicadeza" instead of waiting for Mrs. Arroyo's instruction.
She said the President has ordered National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales to investigate whether Singson used official government resources to spy on Tiongson and make the necessary recommendations.
Asked her personal opinion about the matter, Fajardo said that no one should be considered above the law.
“We feel very strongly about this... I feel very strongly about this. I’m mad. I’m angry. We are professionals as well. This is a personal matter between the governor and his family. Any violence should not be tolerated. But he should be subjected to rule of law," she said.
She added that women should be loved and respected, and that any form of violence against women should not be tolerated.
Physical abuse, torture
Singson is considered one of the most influential politicians in the country. His testimony in the impeachment trial of President Joseph Estrada in 2000 led to the fall of the Estrada administration and the rise to power of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in January 2001.
Singson virtually admitted last Wednesday over dzMM that he beat up his wife last month after discovering she had an affair, and added she should be thankful he didn't kill her.
In an exclusive interview last week with ABS-CBN's Ces Oreña Drilon, Tiongson showed pictures of her badly-bruised face and arms allegedly caused by the beatings she suffered at the hands of Singson last August 22 after he found her with her boyfriend in an apartment.
She said Singson beat her up and even lashed her using the whip he uses to discipline his pet tiger.
Singson and his bodyguards also allegedly undressed Tiongson's boyfriend, took pictures of his penis, beat him up, and tortured him.
Singson's arrogance assailed
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chair Leila de Lima on Saturday assailed Singson for his arrogance, and urged Tiongson to file a human rights complaint against her husband.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, de Lima lamented Singson's statement in media interviews, including with dzMM and ABS-CBN News, that Tiongson and her boyfriend should be thankful he did not kill them for their affair.
"As a government official, he [Singson] is covered by the Code of Conduct of public officials. Kaya tamang pinagsabihan siya ng Palasyo, especially since he holds a public position. He is a powerful man and hindi dapat ganyan, fino-flaunt yung power. To me, there's arrogance there," de Lima said, when asked to comment on the incident involving Singson and his wife.
Under Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Ethics for Government Officials and Employees, public servants are supposed to respect human rights and to act with "justness."
A provision in RA 6713 states: "(c) Justness and sincerity - Public officials and employees shall remain true to the people at all times. They must act with justness and sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone, especially the poor and the underprivileged. They shall at all times respect the rights of others, and shall refrain from doing acts contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy, public order, public safety and public interest...."
De Lima said the fact that Singson is a high-ranking official of the National Security Council "makes it more imperative na kailangan malaman talaga kung ano ang kanyang pananagutan diyan."
"To me, all the more that it should be deplorable because he's a powerful man, and hindi puwede yung ganun-ganun lang. And then you know, totoo ba yun? Na when he was interviewed, he even said, 'Buti nga hindi ko pinatay.' The mentality is there is alarming," she said.
De Lima said Singson could face administrative sanctions for violation of the Code of Ethics.
"We can recommend or not for possible prosecution and other sanctions like administrative," she added.