CHR slams Gordon for suspension of Senate inquiry
THE COMMISSION on Human Rights (CHR) on Tuesday slammed Sen. Richard Gordon for “prematurely” suspending its inquiry on alleged extrajudicial killings in the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs after a heated debate with Sen. Leila de Lima.
In a news conference, CHR Commissioner Roberto Eugenio T. Cadiz said, “Clearly, under the facts, Gordon did accuse her wrongly. And he did owe her an apology …. It blew [up] in his face.”
On Monday evening, following suggestions from two senators to terminate the investigation, Gordon, chair of the Senate committee on justice, decided to suspend the hearings and call a closed-door caucus to discuss the matter.
The development came after Gordon accused De Lima of “material concealment” of information that confessed hit man Edgar Matobato had been charged by the National Bureau of Investigation for the 2002 kidnapping of Sali Makdum. Matobato earlier admitted killing Makdum, a suspected terrorist, on orders of President Duterte, then the Davao City mayor.
Cadiz pointed out that when De Lima walked out, Gordon had already adjourned the hearing.
“So who’s running away from the Senate hearing? De Lima, Matobato, or Gordon and the other senators in the majority? Who’s closing this hearing? Under the circumstances, there is every reason to believe it is Gordon who is afraid of this hearing. I challenge him, as a commissioner: The only way for him to recover his credibility as chairman is to continue with the hearing and listen to the other witnesses. Otherwise, there is every reason to believe he is the coward here and not Matobato or De Lima,” Cadiz said.
He said it was premature to suspend or terminate the hearing “because there are so many witnesses yet to be presented.” The CHR, for one, had “more than 10” witnesses to present, he said.
Matobato was in the Senate on Monday from 7 a.m. and left past 7 p.m., Cadiz said.
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had requested that Matobato be put on the stand.
“We do not know why the chair of the Senate committee did not immediately put him on the witness stand. But the fact was Matobato was there, ready and willing, and Matobato was willing to come back today. So what are they talking about, that Matobato was running away, afraid to confront the other witnesses?” Cadiz said.
“It’s very unfair that after having refused the request of Matobato to be under the custody of the Senate [sergeant at arms], where he could have stayed 24 hours and testify as long as the senators wanted, now he would be blamed for having left the Senate for his security,” Cadiz pointed out.
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