Sen. de Lima’s statement after Sen. Pimentel rejected Senate protection for Matobato

admin   •   September 16, 2016   •   3394

untv-senator-leila-de-lima

MANILA, Philippines— Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Thursday denied the request of the Senate committee on justice and human rights to put Duterte whistle blower Edgar Matobato under witness protection.

Pimentel said there was no Senate rule to justify placing Matobato under protective custody.

“There’s even no showing that his life or safety is threatened. Worse, the witness’ testimony is not even relevant to the resolution being investigated,” said the senate president.

Motabato claimed to be a former member of alleged Davao Death Squad and narrated killings of suspected criminals supposedly upon the orders of then Davao mayor now President Rodrigo Duterte.

Sen. Leila de Lima’s statement following Sen. Pimentel’s rejection of the request for senate protection:

“I am perplexed, disturbed, and extremely disappointed with the Senate President’s refusal to grant protective custody to Edgar Matobato. The grant of protective custody to witnesses may not be in the Rules, but this is a long-standing practice, probably in any legislative body in the world, because it is an ancillary and inherent power of the legislature to support its mandate of conducting inquiries in aid of legislation. The grant of protective custody, like the power to cite in contempt, is one of the ancillary powers inherent in the Senate Committees conducting legislative inquiries.

In light of this, I am withdrawing the Committee’s request asking the Senate President to approve the Committee recommendation for the grant of protective custody to Matobato. Instead, I will bring the issue to the Committee, with the end in view of asserting our inherent and ancillary power as a Senate Committee conducting an inquiry in aid of legislation to grant the witness protective custody of the Senate. The grant of protective custody, like the power to cite in contempt, is a Senate power, not a prerogative of the Senate President. It is my submission that the Committee on Justice and Human Rights as a standing committee of the Senate has the authority to grant protective custody to a witness testifying before it, on behalf of the Senate as a whole.

The protection of Senate witnesses is paramount, especially those who have endangered and are willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to shed light on criminal wrongdoings upon the invitation of the Senate. This is undertaken as a matter of course, since it is the automatic obligation of the Senate to protect witnesses who have entrusted their security to this body in exchange for the vital information only they are able to share in aid of legislation. We are even hard put in searching for a precedent where protective custody was refused to a witness who needed it. We cannot now pretend that the explosive testimony of Edgar Matobato fails to meet precedents on previous grants of protection.

Edgar Matobato has provided the Senate vital information that sheds light on the whole complexity of the President’s War on Drugs, especially on the similarity of the strategy adopted by the DDS and that of the vigilantes that now roam the whole country. The relevance of his testimony to the inquiry on extra-judicial killings is self-evident. Regardless of the personalities involved, his testimony merely shows that what is transpiring now in this country has happened before in Davao City. His testimony raises the legitimate question of whether the DDS has anything to do or is in fact involved in the nationwide War on Drugs, at least insofar as the aspect of extra-judicial and vigilante killings are concerned.

No other government agency or office is in a position to provide protective custody to this witness. The circumstances leave no doubt, considering that it is the President who is being accused by the witness, that his security and custody cannot be left to any agency of the Executive Branch, leaving the Senate as his only choice for sanctuary. It is therefore highly irregular and incomprehensible for the Senate to be unable to perform this obligation to a witness whom it has invited on the basis of the vital information only he can provide to an inquiry conducted in aid of legislation.”

(UNTV News and Rescue)

 

Duterte won’t withdraw memo barring gov’t officials from Pharmally hearings

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night (October 6) defended his memorandum order barring government officials from attending the Senate investigation on the government’s management of pandemic funds.

During his regular public address, Duterte slammed senators who were calling for the withdrawal of the memo directing government officials and employees to no longer attend the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings.

“Kayo ang nag-umpisa nito eh. Kayo ang nag-umpisa nitong lahat (You’re the ones who started this. You started all of this), he said referring to the panel.

READ: DOJ chief defends Duterte memo barring Cabinet execs from attending Senate panel probe

The committee is currently conducting investigation on alleged irregularities in the government’s procurement of COVID-19 pandemic supplies last year.

“I have to protect the Executive department from the incessant and steady dose of insults coming from the senators,” Duterte said. “There ain’t no way that I will withdraw it. You can do your worst and I will do mine,” he added.

The Chief Executive said government employees, including Cabinet members, should be focused on addressing the  pandemic instead of participating in Senate hearings. The President also slammed Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan for threatening government employees.

“I’m told that it was Pangilinan who said that ‘the worst is yet to come’ to mga empleyado (the employees). Who are you to threaten or even to intimidate government workers?” Duterte said. AAC

Duterte on Senate probe into Pharmally: ‘More than martial law’

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called the Senate order to detain Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corporation director Linconn Ong as “more than martial law”.

In his weekly talk to the nation aired Monday night (September 27), Duterte criticized the Senate’s “intimidation” tactics in its investigation on government transactions with Pharmally.

Akala ko ba ayaw ng mga taong Pilipinas ng martial law? Tingnan mo ang ginagawa ng Senado ngayon, (I thought the Philippines does not like martial law? Look at what the Senate is doing now), it is just more than a martial law,” he said.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chaired by Senator Richard Gordon has ordered Ong’s detention after citing the latter for contempt for allegedly evading questions regarding Pharmally’s P8 billion worth of transactions with the government. Ong was supposed to be transferred to the Pasay City Jail.

Duterte said the Senate panel is not really looking for answers but expecting specific replies from summoned resource persons.

Kung ayaw ninyo ang sagot, magagalit kayo tapos you threaten (If you don’t like the answer you will get mad and threaten) you will—’We will cite you in contempt and we can detain you forever.’ Is that how a civilized Congress works? Takutan ba ito (Is this intimidation),” he said.

“Do not blame him because that is his truth. You just cannot assume altogether that he is lying. That would be a cockeyed view of what a hearing should be,” he added.

Duterte also wondered what the human rights advocates have to say regarding the issue.

“So ang Human Rights, gusto kong marinig kung ano rin ang sinasabi (I also want to know what they have to say). The Constitution really provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Is there a due process of law if you already have the preconceived answer? And if it does not dovetail your frame of mind, you send him to jail?” he asked.

The president addressed Senator Richard Gordon anew during his speech, telling him to “try to be a lawyer and not a despot.”

“You are not the king of Congress. Please do it for the sake of you, your family, and for the country,” he said. AAC

DOJ to issue immigration lookout bulletin order against Michael Yang

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 14, 2021

Michael Yang

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice will issue an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against former presidential adviser Michael Yang on Tuesday, Secretary Menardo Guevarra announced.

This is in response to the request of Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Senator Richard Gordon to place Yang under an immigration watchlist.

Gordon on Monday (September 13) wrote to DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra to seek issuance of an immigration lookout bulletin order (ILBO) against Yang.

A similar request was previously submitted to the DOJ for former Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Undersecretary Lloyd Christopher Lao and seven others, to which an immigration lookout order had been released.

Yang and Lao are both under probe due to alleged deficiencies in the use of the P67-billion budget for pandemic response under the Department of Health (DOH) which was reflected in the 2020 Commission on Audit (COA) report.

The Blue Ribbon has been investigating the government’s handling of COVID-19 response funds, including the procurement of supposedly “overpriced” face masks and shields. AAC

 

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