2 neophyte senators: Uphold rule of law, due process in drug fight
Two neophyte senators are urging authorities on Monday to observe the rule of law and due process amid intensified anti-drug drive even before President-elect Rodrigo Duterte assumes office on June 30.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the internal affairs of the Philippine National Police should investigate in particular the spate of killings of suspected drug dealers after allegedly resisting arrests.
“I think this is where the CHR and the internal affairs of the police should come in and investigate all of these. Hindi natin pwedeng sabihin lang na lumaban at tapos na (We can’t just say that they resisted arrest and it’s done). I think the investigation should go on and put a closure to what has happened,” Gatchalian told reporters at the Senate.
If there were reports of human rights violations, he said, it should still fall on the lap of the incumbent leadership of Pesident Benigno Aquino III. Duterte will assume office at 12:00 p.m. of June 30.
Gatchalian said Duterte’s pronouncements against illegal drugs should not give anyone a license not to follow the law as well as due process.
“The new administration can’t instruct so these are all pronouncements, meaning the present administration and present leadership, sila din dapat ang tumingin kung talagang merong violation ng batas o violation ng due process (should look into whether there is a violation of law or violation of due process),” he said.
“Yung kapulisan naman natin alam nila na hindi pa sila dapat sumunod kung hindi pa nakakaupo ang bagong administration (The police should not be following the orders of the new administration as it has yet to take a seat). I think that’s the basic administrative protocol so that’s why nga dapat makita natin kung ano ang nangyari (we should know what happened),” the neophyte senator added.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said Duterte’s pronouncements particularly on the death penalty should serve as a “wake-up” call to everyone about the importance of principle of due process and the need to protect human rights.
“Kung mayroong alleged or reported violations, dama ko naman na tinututukan yan ng mga nakaupo na nating ngayon pa lang na mga watchdog groups, kasama na yung ating CHR at yung ibat ibang civil society organizations na interesado sa pagtataguyod ng karapatang pantao, pagtataguyod ng rule of law,” Honteiveros said in a separate interview.
(If there are alleged or reported violations, I think that the watchdog groups including the CHR as well as different civil society organizations, which are advocating for upholding human rights and the rule of law, are looking into these cases.)
“And I look forward na kapag nagsimula na yung trabaho namin sa Senado sa 17th Congress, magiging bahagi ako sa pag sustain ng mga prinsipyong iyon, at karapatang iyon ng ating mamamayan,” she said.
(And I look forward to the start of our work at Senate in the 17th Congress wherein I would be a part of sustaining these principles and the human rights of our people.)
The lady senator also reiterated her strong opposition to the reimposition of the death penalty in drug-related cases and other henious crimes.
“Kung may magfa-file ng reimposition of death penalty, io-oppose ko po yan for the same reasons na naging bahagi ako ng Movement for Restorative Justice noong ma-abolish ang death penalty years ago,” Hontiveros said.
(If someone would file for the reimposition of death penalty, I would oppose it for the same reasons that I was a part of Movement for Restorative Justice when the death penalty was abolished years ago.)
“Ang death is a cruel and inhuman, degrading punishment. Sya po ay anti-poor and hindi talaga deterrent sa heinous crime. So for those same reasons na matagumpay naming napa-abolish ang death penalty noon, hindi ko susuportahan kundi tututulan ko ang reimposition ngayon,” she further said.
(Death is a cruel and inhuman, degrading punishment. It is anti-poor and not really a deterrent to heinous crime. So for those same reasons that we succeded in abolishing the death penalty before, I won’t support but oppose its reimposition now.)
Gatchalian and Hontiveros are among those said to be joining the new Senate minority bloc in the 17th Congress. RAM