MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers on Thursday, August 17, slammed the absence of Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Officer-in-Charge Catalino Cuy and Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa from the DILG budget hearing at the House of Representatives.
Cuy and Dela Rosa were in Ozamiz City with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Lanao del Norte 2nd District Representative Abdullah Dimaporo first complained that he wanted to question them about programs that "has killed one of [their] mayors."
He was referring to Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, who was shot dead in his home by police who were serving a search warrant. Parojinog's security personnel supposedly fought back, leading to a firefight that killed the mayor and 14 others. (READ: TIMELINE: Parojinog, from Duterte's narco list to a bloody raid)
Dimaporo's sentiment was echoed by ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio, who said that the topic involves "our lives."
Gabriela Representative Emmi de Jesus added that the issue is complex. "Madami silang problema. Hindi lang simpleng inconvenience ang nangyari," she said. (They have a lot of problems. What happened was not just a simple inconvenience.)
The DILG budget hearing was initially moved to be canceled. But House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas countered the motion, saying it would be a waste, given that most of the DILG and PNP regional directors were already present.
"With due respect to my brother Abdullah, the budget proceedings have different stages. Today is just the briefing. There is still a pre-plenary. Briefing pa lang naman ito (This is just a briefing)," Fariñas said.
Nueva Vizcaya Representative Luisa Cuaresma, the vice chairperson of the House appropriations committee, seconded Farinas' motion and assured lawmakers they could still forward their questions for future sessions.
The lawmakers were visibly dismayed but conceded.
"For my kapatid (For my brother), I may reconsider my position provided that I may be allowed to talk in the plenary about my problem," Dimaporo said.
On August 15 alone, 32 people were killed in various anti-drug operations in Bulacan – possibly the highest death toll in a day during the drug war.
The PNP has repeatedly denied carrying out extrajudicial killings, saying that suspects die when they fight back. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.