Sen. Jose "Pedo" Terlaje has conflicts of interest that he knows should have made him excuse himself from the debate during emergency session on Friday. The debate was on the proposed law that would authorize the recall of indicted mayor Jesse Mendiola Blas.
Instead of excusing himself, Sen. Terlaje helped steer the discourse from the recall of an associate – proclaiming his concern over the cost to taxpayers of a recall election. The cost was estimated to be approximately $25,000 – more money than what mayors had spent previously on overseas festivals.
Sen. Terlaje has multiple conflicts because of his personal and public ties with the indicted mayor.
Blas was Terlaje's chief of staff when Sen. Terlaje was the mayor of Yona. When Sen. Telaje decided to run for the Legislature, Blas took over the mayoral duties the former left behind.
Sen. Terlaje's son Joey Terlaje was mentioned in an FBI agent's testimony in federal court late last year as an alleged associate of Blas. The Yona mayor has been in jail awaiting trial on federal bribery and extortion charges for allegedly allowing a drug-dealing operation to use the cluster mailboxes under the control of the mayor's office.
Joey Terlaje resigned from being the deputy director of the Department of Corrections shortly after Blas was arrested, and after his alleged association with the jailed mayor surfaced in court.
On top of this, Blas, acting from behind bars, had appointed the senator from Yona last week as one of 10 municipal council members who would run the village while the mayor is unavailable. After it became clear to Sen. Terlaje his name would be made public as an appointee of the mayor on the municipal planning council, the senator recused himself, citing he has a conflict.
There are other conflicts inherent in Sen. Terlaje's role as chairman of the legislature's public safety committee. The case against the Yona mayor alleges there have been times the indicted mayor threatened people who would later turn up as witnesses in the case against him. For the legislative chairman of public safety to remain associated with the indicted mayor is dumbfounding. And Yona residents have voiced safety concerns they'd like resolved through the recall of the arrested mayor.
When will the Democratic Party leadership police its own ranks by keeping Terlaje from staying on as the chair of legislative oversight of public safety? When will party leaders acknowledge that the senator from their party is the last person you'd want to be taking the lead on all things public safety-related?
This is a glaring problem and one that can only be part of the reason public safety might not be that important to current elected officials after all.
Words and actions haven't jibed.
They've been contradictory.