Only 4 of 24 invited guests attend Gordon-led probe
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Only 4 invited resource persons confirmed their attendance at the 4th Senate hearing on the spate of extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration, the first after Senator Leila De Lima was ousted as chairperson of the Senate committee on justice and human rights.
This is based on the list of agenda and resource persons given to members of the media on Thursday, September 22.
Those who attended the hearing are Chief Superintendent Leo Angelo Leuterio of the Philippine National Police-Internal Affairs Service, Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos of the PNP-PIO, and John Nery, editor-in-chief of Inquirer's news website. Edgar Matobato, the self-confessed hitman of the Davao Death Squad, was also present.
The National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency only sent their representatives.
Meanwhile, human rights groups, including the Commission on Human Rights, skipped the hearing.
Senator Richard Gordon now heads the hearing after the Senate, voting 16-4, removed De Lima as chairperson of the committee on justice and human rights.
The ouster of De Lima, President Rodrigo Duterte's fiercest critic, came after she presented witness Matobato, who accused Duterte of ordering killings when he was mayor of Davao City.
The CHR, which was consistently present in the previous 3 hearings, skipped the probe, citing "miscommunication" between them and the committee secretariat.
"What the Senate committee wanted was to produce the witnesses under our protection which would be okay if the witnesses would consent as they had previously," CHR Chairperson Chito Gascon told Rappler.
The CHR, however, failed to secure protection facilities for the witnesses like before. Gascon, in a letter to the committee, said they only recently found out about the continuation of the hearing, so they lacked time to prepare.
"Unfortunately, this time around, because of lack of material time we failed to secure protection facilities for the witnesses as before. Next time na lang when prepared na po (Next time when we are prepared)," Gascon said in a text message.
Gordon said at the start of the hearing that the CHR had written the Senate panel about the matter. The CHR also asked the committee to notify it about a Senate hearing at least 5 days in advance so it could prepare.
Some of the human rights groups who were invited but declined include the Philippine Human Rights Information Center (Philrights), Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), Karapatan, and the Ateneo Human Rights Center, among others.
PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa was also absent, as he is on an official trip to Colombia.
Dela Rosa was represented by Chief Superintendent Augusto Marquez, acting director of the PNP-Directorate for Investigative and Detective Management (DIDM). Oscar Albayalde, regional director of the National Capital Regional Office, was also present.
Also absent was National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran, who Matobato earlier accused of being part of a group ordered by Duterte, who was then Davao City mayor, to feed a man to a crocodile.
Ferdinand Lavin of the NBI forensic investigation service and Joel Tovera of the NBI Anti-Illegal Drugs Department represented him.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Isidro Lapeña only sent a representative, Ricardo Quinto. – Rappler.com
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