Drilon to Senate majority: Be impartial in probe into Kian's death
MANILA, Philippines – With President Rodrigo Duterte's allies in the Senate now denouncing drug-related killings, the opposition has asked for their impartial investigation into the summary executions under the administration.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon reminded his colleagues about the Fernando Commission, the Marcos-backed body that first probed the death of former senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr in 1983 but was immediately dissolved due to perceived bias and heavy public criticism. (READ: LOOK BACK: The Aquino assassination)
"I think it brings to mind the Fernando Commission created by Marcos, who after two hearings, if I recall correctly, was dissolved because of bias. I hope that our colleagues in the Senate remember this piece of history so we can be impartial in our investigation in order to look at the real cause of all these killings," Drilon said in an interview on Monday, August 21, during the commemoration of Ninoy Aquino's 34th death anniversary.
Last year, the Senate conducted marathon hearings on the issue, with some senators downplaying the executions. In the end, the chamber cleared President Rodrigo Duterte and the government from liabilities and merely cautioned him against his pronouncements encouraging killings and to follow the law.
The hearings were initially led by Senator Leila de Lima, a fierce critic of Duterte, but she was later ousted for lack of objectivity and fairness in handling the investigation.
Better late than never?
Asked if the majority bloc's resolution is too late a move, Drilon said: "I cannot speak for the majority but the minority has been doing its best."
Senator Francis Pangilinan said while the administration senators were a bit late, their action is still laudable.
"Mabuti naman ang mayorya sa Senado ay nakikita na rin ito. Huli man, dahil marami na rin ang napatay, ay we still welcome this," Pangilinan told reporters. (It's a good thing that the Senate majority bloc is also seeing the killings. While they're late since many have already died, we still welcome this.)
Pangilinan also said the Senate, as a co-equal branch of government, should insist on its independence.
"Sana ito'y senyales na para sa lahat ng kasamahan natin sa Senado, na napakahalaga na manatiling independent ang Senado at nagsisilbing check lalo na pagka mayroong pang-aabuso," he added. (I hope this is a sign for our colleagues in the Senate that it is really important for the Senate to remain independent and to serve as a check to abuses.)
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV said now that the majority and minority blocs are both demanding an end to the killings, the Duterte administration should listen to the call against the bloody drug war.
"Ang gobyerno dapat nakikinig. Kung tutuusin, iyan kaalyado na iyan ni President Duterte, nagsasabi na rin na hindi tama ang nangyayari, palagay ko isa itong paraan na puwedeng magsama iyong Senado, magsama iyong majority and minority, magsama iyong iba't ibang tao na pakiramdam natin na hindi na ito dapat maipagpatuloy," Aquino said.
(The government should be listening. If you look at it, those are allies of the President speaking against the killings. I think this is one way for the Senate to unite and for others, who think these should stop, to join forces.) – Rappler.com