February 26, 2017
PROTECT INTEGRITY, DIGNITY OF THE SENATE AS AN INSTITUTION - GORDON STATES
Senator Richard Gordon called for greater emphasis on protecting the dignity and integrity of institutions, such as the Senate, as it serves as the vanguard of democracy and a bastion of knowledge and information in which committees investigate issues in aid of legislation.
This comes in light of retired SPO3 Arturo Lascanas' retraction of his statements regarding the existence of the Davao Death Squad (DDS). Last year, the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which Gordon chairs, conducted an investigation into recent and rampant killings in the country. At the October 3 2016 hearing, Lascanas, then a senior non-commissioned police officer who was known as one of the "most powerful policemen in Davao", flatly denied allegations of his involvement in the DDS.
But at a press conference organized by a senator at the Senate last week, Lascanas claimed he was pressured into lying under oath when he testified before the Senate committee hearing. Controverting his testimony at that hearing, Lascanas confirmed that the DDS does exist, claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte, then Davao City mayor, paid between P 20,000 and P 100,000 for each kill, and narrated the supposed hit jobs on prominent personalities that were allegedly ordered by Duterte.
In a privilege speech delivered last week, Gordon pointed out that conducting an investigation into the recent retraction of earlier statements by Lascanas, would only stain the integrity and dignity of the Senate as an institution.
"He lied to all of us. And to come down now and say, 'Pretty please second chance.' No! You already stained the dignity of the Senate by lying and we do not want that dignity, that respect that must be accorded this Body, to all the 24 constituting the Senate of the Republic of the Philippines, be stained," he said.
Gordon stressed that no one should be allowed to trifle with the Senate as it would set a bad precedent in all investigations conducted by the Senate committees.
The chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights lamented that it will be to the public's detriment if the committees will accept damaged witnesses whose testimonies would be dubious.
"Ang Senado, madaling magsinungaling diyan, papatawarin ka. Magpre-press conference pa doon sa Senado mismo. Ano ang mangyayari sa imbestigasyon natin? Ano ang mangyayari sa mga tao na pumupunta rito para humanap ng katarungan?" he said.
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