Senate EJK report: Leila claims whitewash, files dissent

Refusing to accept the findings of the Senate committee on justice and human rights on the issue of extrajudicial killings, Sen. Leila de Lima has filed a dissenting report that she said contained the “true findings” of the investigation.

De Lima hit committee chairman Sen. Richard Gordon for “libeling, attacking and pillorying” her and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV after they dared to come out against President Duterte over the killings.

In a committee report, Gordon reprimanded De Lima and Trillanes for showing “unethical conduct and unparliamentary behavior during the hearings.”

De Lima, the committee chair before she was ousted by her colleagues and replaced with Gordon, said the hearings failed to get all the facts because of Gordon’s refusal to hear all the testimonies of extrajudicial killing witnesses presented by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

“Due to the premature and abrupt termination of the Senate investigation, no comprehensive, in-depth gathering and assessment of the evidence were done by the committee. What came out was a virtual whitewash designed to absolve the national leadership as led by the President,” she said.

The former justice secretary said the exclusion of important witnesses precluded a thorough and intensive treatment of the subject of extrajudicial killings.

Apart from refusing to hear the testimonies of the CHR witnesses, De Lima lamented the committee’s dismissal of the testimony of self-confessed Davao death squad member Edgar Matobato, whom she and Trillanes presented as a witness.

De Lima said Matobato was able to explain the national phenomenon of state-sponsored executions, but that the Gordon committee was bent on exonerating the President and the administration from any involvement in the killings.

De Lima’s 151-page dissenting report contained 250 pages of annexes, which she submitted for the record.

Part of the report was her 10-point recommendation – one of which was for the Senate to look into the alleged irregularities in the preparation, routing and filing of the Gordon report – and study of the propriety of enforcing the standing Senate rules on all committees.

De Lima said there was a need to strengthen the investigative and forensic capacities of the country’s law enforcement agencies to align them with internationally accepted standards of law enforcement.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority were urged to follow the International Drug Control Conventions.

On the forthcoming visit of the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Summary Executions, De Lima said these UN officials should be allowed effective and unhampered discharge of their duties.

De Lima pushed for the passage and enactment of Senate Bill 1197 or the proposed Anti-Extrajudicial Killings Act, which seeks to address institutional barriers to efficient, independent and impartial investigation of extrajudicial killings among concerned government agencies.

She sought the passage of her other bill that would strengthen the CHR and the creation of a separate office within the DOJ or Public Attorney’s Office that will provide legal assistance and representation to law enforcement officials facing charges.

To help the families of persons killed during police operations, De Lima called for the establishment of an assistance program in the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

She called for an investigation of criminal acts committed by police officers and the liabilities of their superiors as provided under the Philippine act on crimes against international humanitarian law, genocide and other crimes against humanity.

She said there should be an independent investigation by a commission on the President’s war against illegal drugs and the concomitant extrajudicial killings that have gone with it.

“This dissenting report aims to provide an alternative analysis of the facts presented and the conclusions deduced therefrom based on applicable laws and rules,” De Lima said.

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