Senators promise ‘fair’ inquiry on extrajudicial killings

MANILA — Senators on Monday vowed that the legislative inquiry on the alleged extra-judicial killings will be fair to the invited law enforcers while noting that their primary goal is to protect human rights.

In their privilege speeches before the start of inquiry, Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Risa Hontiveros said that they understood where the members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were coming from with Lacson being a former PNP Chief and Hontiveros’ being wife to a former cop, Francisco Baraquel Jr. who died in 2005.

“Nakaharap na rin po ako sa ganitong uri ng (I have faced this kind of) legislative investigation and be seated on their side of the committee room. And I can tell you, the feeling was anything but pleasant,” Lacson said.

“I just hope our resource persons who are members of the police force are not talking to themselves now as I speak, cursing us legislators the way I did then,” he added.

Lacson, however, admitted that he did not know how the whole exercise of drug-fighting will end.

“I have no idea what is the end-state of all your efforts. Either we have a drug-free Philippines after six months or maybe a longer period; or God forbid, you go bust and worse end up in jail,” the senator said.

Hontiveros, for her part, said that she knew how it felt like for wives to lose their cop-husbands and assured the PNP that she would ensure their safety, in her power as senator.

“Gagawin ko ang lahat ng aking makakaya bilang Senador upang masiguro ang inyong kaligtasan at maprotektahan kayo sa panganib sa kampanya ng gobyerno laban sa droga. Kasama ng maraming mga mamamayan, hangad ko na magtagumpay kayo at magkaroon tayo ng mapayapang bansa (I will do everything I can, as senator, to ensure your safety and protect you from harm in this campaign against illegal drugs. With other citizens, I aspire that you succeed in creating a peaceful country),” Hontiveros said.

“Pero sana maintindihan din po ninyo na gagawin ko rin po ang lahat ng aking makakaya upang ipagtanggol ang karapatang pantao ng bawat mamamayan (But I hope you also understand that I will do what I can to defend human rights of our people),” she added.

Hontiveros stressed anew that the war on drugs should not be reduced to killings.

“I believe that in the government’s war against drugs, we cannot play gods and decide whose lives matter and whose lives don’t,” the neophyte senator said.

“We must shift the focus of this war on drugs from vendetta to real justice, from shortcuts to reforms, from punishment to treatment, from mere killing to healing,” she added. Azer Parrocha/PNA/