MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – It was a resolute no that suddenly turned into a yes.
Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday, October 13, initally refused to discuss the issue of extrajudicial killings in the Senate probe.
After a standoff with Senator Leila de Lima, the new chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights flip-flopped moments later after the resource people invited to the hearing were not informed that they would no longer speak about killings but on the death penalty bill instead.
Gordon initially decided to exclude the issue of extrajudicial killings from the hearing, even if that was the notice given to senators and resource people alike.
This came after the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) did not apologize to the Senate for the statement of CHR Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz calling Gordon a “coward.”
Gordon decided to discuss bills on death penalty instead.
But De Lima , who had initiated the probe into extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration, did not take this sitting down and opposed the move.
She submitted two motions – to allow CHR Chairman Jose Luis Gascon to explain the agency’s side before the Senate, and to delay the discussion of the death penalty as there were no “credible” resource people invited.
“It is but just fair, just, and right, that we give the chair the chance to make a statement to explain the side of the CHR because the CHR witnesses have been ready, waiting since Day 1 of this ongoing hearing. Some of them come from the province,” De Lima said.
But Gordon refused: “I don’t want to disagree. Take it to the floor, which has been done yesterday.”
De Lima insisted on her first motion. But when no senator seconded it, Gordon thumbed it down: “Nobody seconded the motion. Motion overruled.”
Gordon then proceeded to the discussion of the death penalty bills, as he first called on Senator Manny Pacquiao, a party mate of President Rodrigo Duterte, to present his proposed bill.
Senator Panfilo Lacson then pointed out that there were only a few resource persons invited to talk about the issue.
“I notice we have only one set of resource person here. They all come from law enforcement sector. I don’t know how we can proceed but I suggest we hear the other sectors in the next hearing,” Lacson said.
De Lima, for her part, raised a similar concern and asked the committee if the invited guests were sent an updated “notice” that they would be asked about the death penalty and not extrajudicial killings.
National Bureau of Investigation Dante Gierran told Gordon they were not given the amended information and, as such, they are not prepared to discuss other issues.
“We have not received an amended like what Ma’am De Lima said. We have no notice. At the moment, although I have in my mind personally, it will not bring the thoughts of the bureau at the moment. We are not prepared your honor,” Gierran said.
Gordon, calmer than when he rejected De Lima’s motions, apologized and just said that the resource people would speak on the matter they were invited for. In short, the extrajudicial killings.
“In that case, if none of you received notice, I’m sorry you weren’t properly notified by the secretary. We will now proceed to the police with what you were here for,” he said.
The hearing has so far focused on the police and their data on the killings. Gordon insisted he would not call the CHR witnesses – some of whom De Lima said are from the province and have been waiting to testify since the first hearing – without a CHR apology to the chamber. – Rappler.com