Senate inquiry on Cebu killings being finalized
The Senate Committee on Public Order is now working on the final schedule of the Senate inquiry into the killings in Cebu.
“We are looking forward na ma-schedule ito for hearing ni Chairman Ping (Senator Ping Lacson) … because we believe that’s very important. It’s about law enforcement issues, and of course it’s a very important human rights issue as well,” said Senator Riza Hontiveros during her visit to Cebu City yesterday.
Hontiveros, who is part of the minority bloc that filed the resolution seeking a probe into Cebu’s spate of killings, is also looking forward to the cooperation of law enforcers, who are likely to be invited to the inquiry.
Since opposition senators announced their intent to conduct an inquiry last October 11, police officials from Camp Crame and down to the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO – 7), said they are open and willing to cooperate with legislators.
“That’s good, and they should be because in any criminal justice system, and criminal justice reform, importanteng pillar yung (an important pillar is) law enforcement agency,” said Hontiveros.
“Sila yung first line of defense ng publiko (They’re the public’s first line of defense), in terms of public safety and law enforcement so they should enjoy or have again the full confidence of the public. And they should be above any doubt or suspicion themselves,” she added.
Hontiveros said they chose to investigate the killings in Cebu since reports have reached their attention that alleged violations of human rights are also happening outside the National Capital Region (NCR).
“The first resolutions on EJKs were filed all in NCR. Unfortunately, it seems that possible EJKs are happening even outside the NCR. And not just in Cebu, also for example in General Santos City and the province of Panay Island,” she said.
Aside from senators allied with the Liberal Party (LP), Senator Grace Poe also filed a similar resolution last Monday (October 30) which also aims at reviewing laws regarding police operations, and to disseminate information on people’s safety and security.
She urged law enforcers “to adopt measures towards accountability and transparency” during their operations, especially when reports showed that several innocent lives were claimed.
Her resolution cited the deaths of village officials, local chief executive, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA-7) agents and four-year-old Bladen Skyler Abatayo, the boy who was killed by a stray bullet during a botched police operation in Bato, Ermita in Cebu City last July.
The decision of key figures from the national government received mix reactions from local public officials.
While PRO – 7 and Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III welcomed it, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who has been vocal against the unsolved killings, was not pleased.
“Why do they always say they call for an investigation? Every other day they call for an investigation but they do not investigate. Let them talk whatever they want… But I will comment on that (investigation on the killings) in the proper time,” Osmeña said in an earlier interview.
Some Cebu City Councilors allied with the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino- Lakas ng Bayan (PDP – Laban) slammed plans for a Senate inquiry, saying it’s nothing but a political play by LP-allied Senators.
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