THE Senate Committee on Justice and Human rights on Thursday officially terminated its investigation into alleged summary executions of crime suspects, and absolved President Rodrigo Duterte of any involvement in the killings.
“Definitely not,” replied Gordon when asked if the committee was able to find any indication of Duterte’s involvement in killings in Davao City when he was still mayor, and all over the country now that he is President.
Gordon, in a news briefing after the hearing, pointed to efforts past and present to pin down the President over alleged summary killings.
The committee, Gordon said, would come out with a report by Monday.
It was Sen. Panfilo Lacson who made the motion to terminate the investigation, which was based on separate resolutions filed by Senators Leila de Lima and Antonio Trillanes 4th.
De Lima was able to conduct three hearings before she was replaced as head of the committee by Gordon.
Gordon granted Lacson’s motion to conclude the committee investigation.
“We have enough to report. We will try to get it out by Monday, so that the public will be assuaged that we are all watching out for each other here. It may not be perfect but we will try,” Gordon said before terminating the proceedings.
The development came a day after Malacañang announced that it had invited a UN special rapporteur to look into the alleged summary killings in the country.
The committee concluded the hearing even if there were still nine witnesses to be presented by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
Gordon rejected the presentation and moved to take up the proposal to restore death penalty, introduced by Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao.
Gordon’s decision to disallow the presentation of the witnesses came after the “disrespectful” statements made by CHR Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz, who called the senator “unfair” and a “coward.”
Cadiz, in a statement issued last October 4, criticized Gordon for suspending the hearing the day before, as supposed inconsistencies in the testimony of confessed “Davao Death Squad” hit man Edgar Matobato emerged.
Gordon called on CHR officials to distance themselves from the statements of Cadiz.
“We are not taking the human rights out of the question. I just said, under the circumstances, kung pinagdududahan ninyo ang committee, huwag na kayo pumunta dito [if you are doubting the committee, don’t come here],” Gordon said.
Gordon said CHR chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon had apologized to him and assured the committee that the commission en banc did not share Cadiz’s position.
De Lima attempted to give Gascon a chance to speak, making such a motion to the committee.
But no member of the panel seconded de Lima’s motion, prompting Gordon to reject de Lima’s plea.
De Lima appealed to the members of the committee to reconsider their decision to disallow the presentation of the CHR witnesses.
The witnesses, she said, had been waiting for their chance to be heard by the committee since day one of the investigation, with some of them even traveling from the provinces.
But Gordon did not budge and proceeded with the hearing on the death penalty bill.
Gascon was eventually allowed by Gordon to give a statement to the committee.
“We do want to say that we respect the honorable chairman of the committee as well as all the other members of this committee,” Gascon said.
After her first motion was junked, de Lima asked the committee not to take up the death penalty bills, saying the resource persons were not properly notified.
According to the senator, there should be a three-day notice issued to the members of the committee and the resource persons to allow them to prepare for the hearing.
Gordon called for a vote, but no member voted, prompting the chairman to turn down de Lima’s second motion.
“The motion is overruled because there is no vote,” Gordon said, and called on Pacquiao to proceed with his proposal.
The committee however was not able to tackle the proposed death penalty measures thoroughly because resource persons from the Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the CHR were not prepared to discuss their positions on the bill.
This prompted Gordon to return to the issue of summary killings, asking the PNP about the latest data on the government’s anti-drug war.
The Internal Affairs Service (IAS) of the PNP said it was handling a total of 1,411 cases of killings of suspects during police operations, covering the period January to October.
Lawyer Maria Lynberg Constantinopla, chief of IAS Intelligence and Investigation Office, said that of the number, 1,298 killings were recorded from July to September.