Sen. Leila de Lima on Tuesday emphasized the need for further hearings on the spate of drug-related killings under President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, saying several witnesses have yet to testify and new developments have not been taken into account.
De Lima reiterated that it was premature for Sen. Richard Gordon to terminate the proceedings and declare that President Duterte’s link to the deaths was not established, and that the existence of the notorious Davao Death Squad was not proven.
“If it were up to me, I would seek a few more hearings,” she told reporters.
“It was premature to terminate the proceedings, and it is even more premature to say there’s no evidence that the killings are state-sponsored, because several aspects could still be looked into,” she said.
Gordon, chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, readily shut the door, responding to reporters: “No! Do they have another platform?”
The senator, who took De Lima’s place at the committee’s helm on Sept. 19 when she was ousted for alleged “bias” in the inquiry, had ended the hearings last week and said a committee report was forthcoming this week.
But De Lima said several witnesses supposed to have been presented during the inquiry—those who had filed complaints against authorities before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for the slay of their loved ones—were not heard during the six-session proceedings.
She also cited the recent case of police officers tagged in the slay of a regional chair of a crime watch group in Oriental Mindoro, and media reports on “alleged secret death squads.”
“Have we really evaluated and thoroughly scrutinized the written submissions from the PNP like the spot reports, Soco (Scene of the Crime Operatives) reports? We haven’t, right? So how can we have such a conclusion at this point that these killings are not state sponsored?” she said.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson agreed with De Lima that the CHR witnesses should have been given a chance to say their piece.