Brosas turns emotional during House hearing on proposed budget for DOJ
MANILA, Philippines — Gabriela Party-list Representative Arlene Brosas shed tears during the plenary debates on the proposed 2024 budget for the Department of Justice (DOJ).
She insisted the department is already biased on the cases of two activists allegedly abducted by the military.
During her turn to question details on the appropriations, Brosas asked budget sponsor and Davao de Oro 2nd District Representative Ruwel Peter Gonzaga about Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla’s statements about activists Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro.
Tamano and Castro recanted their statements that they had voluntarily surrendered to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
After discussions with Gonzaga on the floor, Brosas turned emotional, saying that the DOJ cannot treat Tamano and Castro’s cases with a simple assurance that it will be impartial during the investigation.
“We wish the Justice Department had been more prudent and discerning on its statements on this issues. Buhay at kamatayan ang nangyayari sa mga mamamayan natin. Huwag naman kayong ganyan, lalo na kung saksi tayo sa mga gano’n,” Brosas said.
(It is a life and death situation for our people. Please don’t be like that, especially if we have witnessed the incidents.)
“I was here to interpellate during that time, but I had to go there (in Bulacan) because during the NTF-Elcac (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict) press conference. The young women said they were abducted,” she recalled in a mix of English and Filipino.
“They are still under the custody of the military,” the lawmaker stressed.
Brosas was referring to her sudden trip to Plaridel, Bulacan to meet Tamano and Castro, who were initially presented by NTF-Elcac as rebel surrenderees.
But during the press briefing, the two recanted their statements, saying the military had abducted them.
Due to this recantation, AFP is mulling the filing of perjury charges against Tamano and Castro, noting that the activists supposedly signed the affidavit freely.
But the activists had said they signed the sworn statements in the presence of individuals whom they did not feel safe with.
Brosas tried to control her tears as she expressed her sentiments in the plenary.
She feared the two activists might suffer the same fate as Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño — two female University of the Philippines student-activists who disappeared, also Bulacan ironically, in 2006.
Former Army Major General Jovito Palparan was found guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention involving the disappearance of Cadapan and Empeño.
Both student-activists have not been found yet.
“We have 72 cases of desaparecidos, Madam Speaker. So we cannot resolve this by saying, ‘Oo, we will be impartial,’ et cetera. What kind of justice would we get if this is the case?” Brosas asked.
However, she could not finish her statements, as Majority Floor Leader and Iloilo 1st District Representative Janette Garin moved to suspend the session.
As a compromise, Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Northern Samar 1st District Representative Paul Daza proposed to give Brosas another round so that she could continue with her questions.
The other lawmakers agreed with Daza.