Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday said that he will be asking fellow Senator Leila De Lima to inhibit from the succeeding Senate inquiries into extrajudicial killings noting that the latter was “biased.”
“I am drafting a letter asking Sen. De Lima to inhibit herself from the hearing because she has pre-judgement,” Cayetano told reporters in an interview.
“She has two options—be fair in the hearing or inhibit. There are 24 senators, why not allow someone who is less polluted, less biased to do the investigation?” he added.
Cayetano made this claim after a number of senators, particularly Sen. De Lima, expressed concern over the rising number of drug-related deaths in the country as part of the Duterte administration’s all-out war against drugs.
He said that De Lima, Chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, was biased for steering up the community to believe that President Rodrigo Duterte and the Philippine National Police (PNP) is guilty of an international crime.
“Instead of helping the image of our country, she is destroying it. No one is saying it is okay for the police to kill someone—even criminals. All lives matter, this drug war is to preserve the lives of Filipinos,” Cayetano said.
“The President said he is two times angrier at cops who use drugs as an excuse to kill but look how biased CHR (Commission on Human Rights) and Sen. De Lima are,” he added.
Cayetano said that De Lima should not assume that all killings are extrajudicial, stressing that the President himself would make it a point to punish law enforcers involved in such crime.
“Is the government not doing anything (about these killings)? Two cops have been charged with murder. Why do we misinterpret the President as allowing these killings? He only allows police operation. If it is not legitimate, that’s murder and cases will be filed,” the senator said.
In a separate interview, De Lima said that she would rather let the public judge her if she was being biased or not noting that it was Cayetano who has obviously biased, not her.
”I’m not going to base that to the opinion inquiry of someone who has evidently been the defender and apologist of the President in the senate. He is biased in favor of the administration since day one,” De Lima said.
In the Senate inquiry on Tuesday, CHR Chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon raised the possibility that the International Criminal Court (ICC) may exercise their jurisdiction over extrajudicial killings if they continue to be rampant.
“Failure of the government to address this situation, apparently prevailing of unexplained extrajudicial killings, and providing remedies in terms of prosecution of perpetrators could result in the possibility of the ICC exercising jurisdiction over those matters. But we must first satisfy the principle of complementarity,” Gascon said.
PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa jumped to the defense of his personnel while being interrogated by senators who were alarmed by the number of drug-related deaths which have reached over 700.
“We’re not butchers that kill people anytime we want. We risk our lives, my men are charged in court, we make mistakes—we’re not perfect—but we hope the treatment we receive is fair,” Dela Rosa said.
“It pains us that my men are charged in court,” he added, referring to recently-sacked police officers who allegedly killed suspected drug pushers in two separate incidents—Antipolo and Pasay last month.
Dela Rosa explained that despite criticism received, he vowed to sustain the momentum especially as he felt that people “liked” what the PNP was doing.
“The government’s war on drugs is highly appreciated as supported by the general public. Just before I went up this hall, a number of barangay captains were in the hall expressing their support to PNP,” the PNP Chief said.
Senators sought for clarification if the “shoot-to-kill” order was defined in the PNP manual. Dela Rosa explained that the order was only allowed if a police officer uses it “in self-defense.”