MANILA, October 13, 2016 (PNA) — The Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights today decided to scrap the inquiry into extrajudicial killings (EJKs) and instead tackle a measure seeking the death penalty for heinous crimes.
This after committee chair Senator Richard Gordon took offense at a recent statement made by commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), who had slammed the Senate for suspending the supposed three-day inquiry last October 3 after a heated exchange among senators which resulted in Senator Leila de Lima walking out of the proceedings.
Cadiz had called Gordon a “coward” for suspending the hearing after witness and self-confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) member Edgar Matobato left the Senate premises purportedly for security reasons.
Cadiz also expressed dismay because there were more than 10 other witnesses yet to be presented.
Gordon, for his part, initially said on Wendesday that the Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings would push through without the witnesses presented by the CHR.
Gordon said the CHR should apologize and castigate Cadiz.
Today, however, Gordon decided to scrap the inquiry altogether and instead tackle the death penalty bill.
He said the panel would release a committee report on extrajudicial killings on October 17.
De Lima, who used to chair the committee before Gordon took over, moved to allow CHR chair Chito Gascon to make a statement and explain side of the CHR.
She also countered the plan to tackle the death penalty instead of extrajudicial killings.
Gordon, however, overruled both motions.
In an interview with reporters, Gascon confirmed that he called Gordon to clarify the misunderstanding but maintained that he would not apologize on behalf of the CHR.
”How can we say sorry for something we did not say? The relationship of commissioners to each other is akin to relationship of the Senators to each other. Each Senator is free to take their position and that’s the same with the Commission, unless the commission as a body takes a position and adopts a resolution,” Gascon said.
Gascon said Cadiz’s statements were made “personally” and were not brought to the commission en banc for discussion.
”That statement was made by him in his personal capacity. It is not for the Commission to disown something it did not do,” he added.
He said it would be better if Gordon and Cadiz would talk to each other. (Azer N. Parrocha/PNA)