Lacson: Gordon should've listened to CHR witnesses
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson, vice chairman of the committee on justice and human rights, said the witnesses under the custody of Commission on Human Rights (CHR) should have been allowed to testify during the final hearing on Thursday, October 13.
Lacson made the statement when asked about the hearings on the extrajudicial killings linked to the Duterte administration's war on drugs, which ended last week.
“Well, kulang pa rin, 'di napayagan victims ng CHR. Sa akin I was actually, I was requesting Chairman Gordon, why don't we just allow them to present just to get it over with,” said Lacson, who is the chair of the committee on public order, the secondary panel handling the issue.
(Well it's still not enough, the victims of the CHR weren't allowed to testify. Me, I was actually requesting Chairman Gordon, why don't we just allow them to present just to get it over with.)
Senator Richard Gordon, committee chair, had barred the witnesses from testifying after a CHR commissioner called him a “coward.” Gordon wanted the CHR to apologize to the Senate, as an institution, even as he was the main subject of the criticism.
Since CHR offered no apology, the senator refused to acknowledge the witnesses. Senator Leila De Lima opposed Gordon's move but eventually lost to the chairman. (READ: Gordon flip-flops on inclusion of killings in Senate probe)
Conditional reopening of probe
Lacson, though, said Gordon appeared to have been "caught in the moment" when he stood his ground against allowing the CHR witnesses to testify at the last hearing.
“But he was very passionate, caught in the moment siya, meron siyang issue with Senator de Lima, ayon, di ko na lang din ininsist baka mag-3-cornered fight pa kami doon,” he said in jest.
(But he was very passionate, he was caught in the moment. He had an issue with Senator de Lima. I no longer insisted on it because we might end up in a 3-cornered fight there.)
While Lacson agrees with the committee’s initial findings favoring President Rodrigo Duterte, the senator said he is still open to the possible resumption of the probe under one condition: that a witness would be able to corroborate the testimony of Edgar Matobato.
Matobato, a self-confessed hitman of the DDS, accused Duterte of ordering killings of crime suspects and the latter's foes when he was Davao City mayor.
“Ako open ako to reopen. Ang qualification lang, I need somebody, someone or something who would corroborate yung tinestify ni Matobato,” the senator said.
(I am open to reopen it. My only qualification is I need somebody, someone, or something who would corroborate Matobato's tesimony.)
“Kasi hinihintay ko something, somebody who would corroborate Matobato’s testimony as of now wala nagko-corrobarate, madami pa ngang inconsistencies,” he added.
(As of now, no one or nothing has corroborated Matobato's testimony is. In fact, there are a lot of inconsistencies.)
Long, heated debates
Gordon earlier revealed that the committee found no proof linking Duterte and the state to the summary executions amid the government’s intensified war against illegal drugs.
At the very least, Gordon said, the authorities were only motivated by Duterte’s strong words against drug suspects.
The senator also said the panel found no evidence on the existence of the Davao Death Squad.
With this, Lacson is expecting heated debates on the floor. The minority bloc, after all, would submit its own report on the killings. Members of the bloc include Minority Leader Ralph Recto and senators Francis Escudero and Antonio Trillanes IV, a critic of the President.
“I think medyo matagal ang plenary debates dito. Ang deliberation sa floor kasi, ang alam ko, the minority group will submit their own report, parang minority report,” Lacson told reporters on Tuesday, October 18.
(I think the plenary debates would be long because I know the minority group will submit their own report, like a minority report.)
“Sa tingin ko maraming mag-i-interpellate diyan. Ako mismo mag-i-interpellate (I think many would interpellate. I, myself, would interpellate)," he added. – Rappler.com