MANILA, Philippines – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on Monday, September 19, filed a resolution seeking to include the alleged killings by the Davao Death Squad in the present probe into summary executions under the administration.
This came after Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III rejected the committee on justice and human rights’ request to provide protective custody to witness Edgar Matobato, self-confessed hitman of the Davao Death Squad.
Pimentel declined the motion, saying Matobato’s testimony was “off topic” in relation to Senate Resolution 9, which originally prompted the hearing.
Resolution 9, filed by neophyte Senator Leila De Lima, specifies that only alleged extrajudicial killings committed from May 2016 are covered by the investigation.
Now, Resolution 151 urges the same committee to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the alleged extrajudicial killings purportedly committed by the Davao Death Squad.
Trillanes maintained there is an “immediate need” to investigate the alleged DDS killings in order to come up with laws to protect people’s rights, amid the administration’s strong campaign against terrorism and illegal drugs.
Citing reports from the Commission on Human Rights in 2009, at a time Senator Leila De Lima was still the chairperson, Trillanes said 206 deaths were attributed to the alleged vigilante group from 2005 to 2009.
Of the 206 death, 107 victims were suspected to have been involved in illegal activities – an apparent killing pattern by the group.
But Pimentel, in an earlier interview, said the new resolution filed to accommodate Matobato is not guaranteed to be referred to De Lima’s justice committee.
"Kasi kung unsolved killings, baka hindi na iyan sa committee on justice. Kung failure of the police to prevent killings, baka sa public order na 'yan babagsak. At kung hahabulin at aalamin sino ang dapat file-an ng kaso, baka sa blue ribbon na iyan," Pimentel said over dzBB on Sunday, September 18.
(Because if it's unresolved killings, it might not go to the committee on justice. If it's about the failure of the police to prevent killings, it might go to public order. And if it's about running after or knowing who should face charges, it might go to the blue ribbon.)
The committees on public order is chaired by Senator Panfilo Lacson while the blue ribbon committee is headed by Senator Richard Gordon.
Pimentel is a party mate of Duterte in the PDP-Laban while De Lima and Trillanes are staunch critics of the President.
Duterte’s allies in the House of Representatives are set to launch a counter-probe against De Lima, focusing on the former justice chief's alleged role in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the national penitentiary during the previous administration. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email email@example.com