Senator Richard Gordon strikes while the iron is hot

By: Malou Guanzon Apalisok - CDN Digital | October 20,2019 - 07:01 AM

The preliminary report of the Senate Blue Ribbon and the Justice and Human Rights committees on the ninja cops or rogue policemen who pilfer and sell confiscated drugs has won pogi points for the Upper Chamber especially for the chair of both committees, Senator Richard Gordon, who won praises from netizens for his conduct of the investigation in aid of legislation. The reaction is a far cry from the usual public derision that usually meets congressional hearings because people have understood they are not intended to exact information needed for some important legislation but to serve narrow political interests.  

In fact, televised congressional probes are derided as “in aid of elections” because many lawmakers seem to enjoy the spotlight thinking they’re getting media mileage ahead of the elections never mind if the free airtime merely exposes their stupidity and ignorance of the law and even the subject at hand.

The late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago heaped the harshest criticisms on legislative probes during a public forum in 2011. She urged senators then to “stop conducting these investigations because they actually do not result in any substantial legislation so they do not serve its constitutional purpose.”  The feisty lawmaker even went as far as calling the congressional power of inquiry as “useless” because Congress serves only as “subordinate fiscals” since all they can do is to make recommendations to the Department of Justice.

If the reactions of netizens on the preliminary report were a far cry from how people take to news of congressional probes in the past, it’s all because the flow of the hearing was surprisingly organized in such a way that people were able to follow it like in a courtroom. 

 The senators asked pointed questions and the persons called to appear and testify were somehow conscious that Senators Gordon, Panfilo Lacson, minority floor leader Franklin Drilon and Senate President Tito Sotto meant business.    

I maybe just speaking for myself but from the moment Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, former chief of the PNP Criminal Detection and Investigation Group was called to give his testimony on the drug raid conducted by Pampanga policemen in 2013, I was practically glued to the televised hearing.  The subsequent face off between resigned PNP Chief General Oscar Albayalde and Magalong, Albayalde and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino, Albayalde and former deputy CIDG director General Rody Lacadin, the testimonies of the policemen involved in the 2013 drug raid, etc., all of these had people on the edge of their seats and shot up the viewership of news channels and TV stations.    

Senator Gordon described these information as “circumstantial connections” which, as the probe continued, broke the resolve of PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde to remain in office.  At that point, the hearing gained momentum so that when Senator Gordon released the preliminary report last Thursday he did so while the iron is still hot.

The ball is now in the hands of the Department of Justice and the Ombudsman who are expected to file cases against General Albayalde and the alleged 13 ninja cops.  Although Senator Gordon is upbeat that the hearings were able to string together a set of circumstantial connections enough to pin down Albayalde and his men, the lawmaker understands that the corpus delecti, that is the 164 kilograms of shabu that the policemen pilfered and disposed, has yet to be traced, in which case, he called on people to be vigilant.   

It may still be early in the day to heap kudos on the Senate but at this point, it would be safe to say that the hearing on the ninja cops in particular has restored, to some degree, public trust in the chamber. It will be up to the chamber to follow through with another round of hearings to find out who is really on top of the agaw-bato scheme.  Remember, General Albayalde in appealing the cases of his men with former General Rody Lacadin said that, “Kaunti lang ang napunta sa akin dyan” (I got only a little from the proceeds of the pilfered drugs).  

The obvious question: Who got the lion share?

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