Lawyers hope for good results in EJK hearings
While Cebu’s legal community continued to express various sentiments regarding the ongoing Senate hearings on extra judicial killings (EJK), emotions were perhaps strongest hours following the verbal clashes, Thursday, of Senators Leila de Lima and Allan Peter Cayetano, both members of the bar.
On social media, Cebu-based lawyers called out de Lima and Cayetano for conduct “unbecoming” of a lawyer; de Lima for allegedly acting like the counsel of witness Edgar Matobato and Cayetano, for “badgering” Matobato with his questions while forcing him to supply him with answers that could incriminate the self-confessed assassin of the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).
Sought for comment by reporters, Atty. Elaine Bathan, Visayas governor of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), hoped that “something good will come out” of the testimony of the witness.
“That is not the forum to say that someone is guilty or not or whether or not that person is lying. What we just hope is whatever testimony of the witness that will be presented, something good will come out of this; meaning, we expect that the Senate will do its work, which is to legislate.”
Bathan pointed out that a Senate hearing should not be adversarial in nature but an inquiry that aims to help the senators craft new laws or amend an old legislation to address specific concerns.
For his part, Atty. Hidelito Pascual, IBP Cebu City Chapter president, said that at most, the testimonies of Matobato can only be taken at face value until such time that evidence can be presented to corroborate or rebut his claims.
For the meantime, it is expected that the public will judge Matobato’s allegations based on their personal take on the matter, said IBP Cebu City director Piedad “Bingo” Gonzalez who likewise pointed out that the rules in a court hearing were different from those of the Senate.
As for the conduct of senators during the hearing, Bathan explained that this will be for the Senate’s ethics committee to deal with.
Aside from De Lima and Cayetano’s verbal tussle, Senator Antonio Trillanes and Cayetano got into a heated exchange when Cayetano, a staunch supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte, began to impute ill motive and malice Matobato’s testimony.
Irked by Cayetano’s line of questioning and the time that he had taken to interrogate the witness, Trillanes lashed at Cayetano for taking almost “an hour” of the Senate’s time. In utter irritation, Trillanes, at one point, turned off Cayetano’s microphone; while Cayetano asked De Lima, chair of the senate committee on justice and presiding officer of the Senate inquiry, to stop Trillanes from “harrassing” him.
“The senators’ demeanor is up to the ethics committee of the Senate to deal with, how the exchange of words and if the actuations made by the two senators would warrant whatever sanction. We will leave it up to the Senate ethics committee to deal with,” said Bathan.
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