MANILA—A Senate panel might have previously agreed that there is no proof of state-sponsored killings under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, however, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson on Friday said that had more witnesses been allowed to testify, it might have been a different story.
Lacson was among the 11 senators who signed the committee report ruling out evidence of state-sponsored killings but admitted that he found it a “waste” to not have allowed the witnesses meant to be presented by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to testify.
He said that he tried to convince Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, Chair of the lead committee investigating the extrajudicial killings — the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights — to allow them to testify but Gordon was firm barring them from doing so.
“I tried to ask him to allow them to testify but he was hot-headed that time so he stood his ground and never allowed the witnesses, who were already there in the holding area, to testify,” Lacson said in a radio interview.
Gordon led a Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings on October 13 without inviting witnesses meant to be presented by the CHR.
This after he took offense to remark made by CHR Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz who slammed the Senate for suspending the supposed three-day inquiry last October 3 after a heated exchange among senators, a walkout of one of them and a fuss over a missing witness ensued.
Cadiz called Gordon a coward for suspending the hearing simply after witness and self-confessed Davao Death Squad Edgar Matobato left the Senate premises due to security purposes.
The Commissioner was upset that the hearing was suspended noting that there were more than 10 witnesses yet to be presented.
Gordon later said that the Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings would push through without the witnesses presented by the CHR and maintained that the CHR should apologize and should castigate Cadiz.
“There were three to four other witnesses or groups of witnesses that could have testified. For all we know, their testimony could prove that the killings are indeed state-sponsored,” Lacson said.