SHE may be a first-time senator but former Justice secretary Leila de Lima is showing no signs of backing down from her move to call for a Senate inquiry into the sudden increase of drug-related killings in the country even if some of her more senior colleagues in the chamber have expressed their objection to the idea.
De Lima, who is set to file a resolution calling for the Senate probe of the spate of drug killings this week, explained that the investigation would be in aid of legislation and that she already has some ideas about bills that would be created after the investigation.
The former Justice secretary, in an earlier interview, said there were tell-tale signs of summary executions in some of the anti-drug police operation and she also wants to find the truth behind them.
But Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who is expected to head the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, said he would likely just sit on the resolution if it is referred to his committee especially if the resolution would just be based on speculation.
“I believe the police know their job. They will not do something that would get them in trouble later on. I’d rather give them the benefit of the doubt they are just performing their duties,” he added.
Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd, the incoming Senate majority floor leader, said it is not the right time for the chamber to conduct such investigation and it would be better to let the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the National Police Commission (Napolcom) carry out the probe.
“We should let the CHR and Napolcom do their jobs first before we think of legislation befitting the events,“ Sotto said in a text message.
De Lima noted that there was never a time when a formal complaint is required before the Senate can conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on a particular issue.
“The Senate is not a court of law that needs a formal complaint before it can conduct an inquiry,” de Lima explained in a radio interview aired over dzBB.
She said there is already a complaint filed before the CHR on the recent shooting and killing of two suspected drug suspects inside a police station.
“We can refer to that formal complaint if they want but in any case nobody can say that there should be a formal complaint first before a Senate inquiry is conducted,” de Lima added..
The CHR is investigating the deaths of 28-year-old Jaybee Bertes, a suspected drug pusher, and his father Renato at the Pasay City (Metro Manila) police detention cell.
They died hours after they were arrested by police.
De Lima said she expects more from Malacañang aside from it just expressing concern with the rising number of suspected drug dealers and drug users being killed in anti-drug operations carried out by police.
“I am very pleased with the concern expressed by Malacañang but it’s not enough,” she added.
According to de Lima, the government needs to come up with more concrete steps that would show that it also wants to stop the killings aside from saying that it is concerned with what is happening.
She cited as example a recent pronouncement of Malacañang about an order creating a task force that would help address media killings.
The pronouncement, de Lima said, was a clear way of showing that the government is really doing something about the problem.
“This is the kind of action expected from Malacañang. More than expressing alarm, it should also do something to minimize summary killings,” the senator added.
Follow the law
De Lima also called on President Rodrigo Duterte to remind the police and other law enforcement agencies to always follow the law and respect the rights of everyone in carrying out their duties.
“We cannot deny the fact that his [Duterte] statements really motivate and inspire our law enforcers to do their jobs and go after bad guys. The problem is that there are statements, with due respect to the President, that promote, condone summary killings,” she said.
De Lima allowed that it is the style of the President and nobody can take it away from him but she there should be a balance in his pronouncements.
While encouraging the police not to be afraid in going after criminals and drugs dealers, she said, the President must also remind them of the law.
“I think there should be a constant accompanying reminder on the limits of their law enforcement duties,” de Lima added.