MANILA, Philippines – Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunchest ally in the Senate, comes to the rescue again, as he asked Senator Leila De Lima to inhibit from her own probe into extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.
“I am thinking of drafting a letter asking Senator De Lima to inhibit herself from the hearing kasi may prejudgment na siya (because she already has prejudgment). Makikita mo sa kanya lahat ng pinatay summary killing na o extrajudicial killing na (You will see that all those killed are already summary killings or extrajudicial killings),” Cayetano said on Wednesday, August 24, adding he would send the letter not later than Monday,
Cayetano called out De Lima for being “biased” in her conduct of the Senate inquiry.
“Ang question ko nga 24 senators tayo, why not allow someone who is less polluted, less biased to do the investigation? Ang sinasabi ko naman hindi dapat ang chairman biased,” he told reporters.
(My question is: We are 24 senators why not allow someone who is less polluted, less biased to do the investigation? What I'm saying is the chairman should not be biased.)
De Lima is the chairperson of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, which is leading the investigation into the spate of drug-related killings in the country. She also filed the resolution that prompted the inquiry.
“You can inhibit anytime, I just want to bring it to her attention that she has two options – maging fair sa hearing or mag-inhibit (be fair in the hearings or inhibit),” he said.
Cayetano also accused De Lima and Commission on Human Rights Chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon of “destroying” the country’s image in the international community, with their loose usage of the term "extrajudicial killings."
“Imbis na tumutulong si Senator De Lima at Chairman Gascon sa image ng bansa, sila ang sumisira sa image ng ating bansa. Kasama sa paglilinis ng pulis ng ating Pangulo ang ikulong ang pulis na 'di sumusunod sa batas,” he claimed.
(Instead of Senator De Lima and Chairman Gascon helping the country's image, they are destroying it. The President's cleansing of the police ranks include jailing those who violate the law.)
Cayetano said De Lima and Gascon are making it appear that the deaths are “state-sponsored” – which he strongly denied.
“It’s different between naming it a murder/homicide from naming it summary killing and extrajudicial killing. What's the difference? The difference is, abroad 'di ba sini-stir up 'yung community to make it appear that guilty of international crime ang Pangulo (The difference is the international community is being stirred up to make it appear that the President is guilty of an international crime),” he added.
Duterte, as early as the 2016 campaign period, said his anti-drug campaign would be “bloody.”
De Lima: 'Why should I?'
De Lima, however, remained unfazed and said she’d rather that the people judge her objectivity in the conduct of the hearing.
“Why should I? I’m not going to base that on the opinion of someone who has evidently been the defender and the apologist of the President in the Senate,” De Lima told reporters.
She denied being biased, as she maintained the Senate probe is not a legal court but only a fact-finding investigation.
“This is not a court of law. This is a fact-finding inquiry. So what bias is he talking about? I'm just trying to determine facts through witnesses," she said.
De Lima said between the two of them, the one who is clearly biased is Cayetano.
“Sino ba biased sa amin? Siya nga very biased in favor of the administration and extrajudicial killings from day one of the hearing. And besides, klarado naman 'yan. He's a lawyer. He knows that, that inhibition is addressed to the personal discretion of the person being sought to inhibit,” she said.
(Who's biased between the two of us? He's the one very biased in favor of the administration and extrajudicial killings from day one of the hearing. Besides, it's clear. He's a lawyer. He knows that, that inhibition is addressed to the personal discretion of the person being sought to inhibit.)