THE findings of two Senate committees that there were no state-sponsored extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration were based merely on weak logic and inadequate evidence, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said in his dissenting opinion on Thursday.
While he agrees with the findings of the committees on justice and on public order and dangerous drugs that there is urgent need to undertake reforms in law enforcement and strengthen the justice system, Pangilinan added that he disputes the factual conclusion that there was no proof that the killings were sanctioned by the government.
In his 10-page dissenting opinion, he noted that the committees downplayed increasing incidence of extrajudicial killings under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“It arrived at this conclusion by inaccurately relying on the murder and homicide statistics submitted by the Philippine National Police [PNP] and the Philippine Statistics Authority,” the senator said.
But Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate justice and human rights committee, is standing by the committee report on the investigation of the spate of drug-related killings in the country and even challenged critics to show proof that there is a state policy sanctioning the killings.
Gordon said he is willing to reopen hearings and continue the investigation.
Ther senator added that the committee was able to establish, based on evidence provided by resource persons and witnesses, that there have been thousands of killings with impunity taking place every year in the country over at least the last two decades.
The Senate inquiry, however, showed that there is no evidence that there is a state-sponsored policy to commit killings in the eradication of illegal drugs.
But Pangilinan in his dissenting opinion said the probers seemed to have disregarded crucial pieces of evidence submitted by the PNP.
He noted that to shed light on circumstances surrounding the death of alleged drug suspects, he requested the PNP to submit copies of the suspects’ drug test results and the Scene of the Crime Operatives reports.
The PNP documents were submitted to the joint committee on September 22, 2016 but, according to Pangilinan, the committee report made no reference to the material documents.
He said premature termination of the committee investigation left factual and legal questions unanswered.
“Given the dreadful daily death count in the media and the very real threats to the life of criminal suspects or even those merely caught in the crossfire in the war on drugs, the Senate has the duty to leave no major questions unanswered,” Pangilinan added.
Gordon, in a statement, insisted that the committee did not receive evidence from the senators who filed resolutions or proof that that the killings were state-sponsored.
He said If there was evidence that was presented that could connect it, then he is willing to look into it.
“However, since the framework of the investigation was clear and we did not receive any evidence, you cannot squeeze blood from us,” Pangilinan said.
Gordon advised the critics that to make an allegation stand, it must be supported by evidence.