Senators clash over questioning of confessed assassin at hearing
Senators clashed on Thursday over the testimony of a confessed assassin, who tagged President Rodrigo Duterte as being behind the bombing of a mosque and killings of several people in Davao City.
A verbal exchange ensued first between Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Leila de Lima when the former asked the witness, Edgar Matobato, who would replace Duterte if the latter was removed from office.
When Matobato could not immediately give an answer, Cayetano questioned how the witness could remember all other names he mentioned except that of Vice President Leni Robredo.
“Ahh si Ma’am Leni Robredo,” the witness finally said during the joint hearing of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, and public order.
When De Lima, chairman of the justice committee, took the mic to clarify some questions for the witness, Cayetano immediately cut her off and reminded her that she was not Matobato’s lawyer.
“The record will speak for itself…Madam chair, you’re not his lawyer. You are the chairman of this committee,” Cayetano said.
“I know,” De Lima shot back.
But Cayetano said, “He knows what the question is, huwag na nating turuan. I’ve been a member of Congress for 18 years, hind po kami ini-i-interrupt ng chairman pag kami na ang nagsasalita, pag kami na po ang magtatanong.”
The lady senator retorted, saying Cayetano’s statement was not true.
Cayetano went on, saying, “You can interject but it’s within my rights Madam chair so may I plead with you, you brought the witness here, nagte-testify sya, I’m testing his credibility, I’m testing his motives. Can you just allow me to do it my way?”
De Lima then acceded to Cayetano, who went on to squeeze the witness.
But after a while, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV questioned the lengthy questioning of Cayetano, a non-member of the committee, and moved to declare the latter out of order.
“I’d just like to inquire if there’s an ‘unli’ (unlimited) questioning allotted for a non-member of the committee? I believe we gave him more than an hour of a leeway for a non-member. That’s s a luxury…” Trillanes said, adding that he might be forced to move to declare Cayetano out of order for consuming the time of the committee.
And when Cayetano insisted on continuing his questioning to the witness, Trillanes made his motion official to declare his colleague out of order.
This prompted De Lima to suspend the proceeding. CDG/rga
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