Senate hearings reveal a lot about Philippine society. They reveal the ugly side of Filipinos. Watching the exchanges between senators make you realise that some senators, especially the ones allied with the Liberal Party, are motivated by their lust for power and not by their desire to see a better Philippines.
Take the case of Senator Leila De Lima. One would consider De Lima’s Senate hearing on the alleged drug related “extra-judicial killings” under the current administration of President Rodrigo Duterte laudable if it wasn’t highlighting her failure in her previous jobs as Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission and as Department of Justice Secretary respectively.
Her Senate hearings are supposed to result in finding out if there is truth in the perception that the murders are due to abuse of power by the members of the Philippine National Police. Unfortunately, De Lima’s witnesses are not helping shed light on it. Her first witness proved that it was during former President BS Aquino’s term when her husband and father-in-law were allegedly dealing with corrupt cops who were involved in drug dealing. Now her latest witness only divulged information not relevant to the issue she is currently investigating.
De Lima’s latest witness, Edgar Matobato, alleged former member of the Davao Death Squad, revealed damning information about President Duterte and his son Paolo Duterte. According to Motubato, he has killed 50 persons personally between 1988 to 2013 and only killed them as per instructions of Duterte and his son. He also accused Paolo of being a drug addict who took part in the killings. Furthermore, he claims that Duterte ordered the Davao Death Squads to murder De Lima while she was in Davao City back in 2009 investigating Duterte’s involvement in the killings.
Matubato said he was a militiaman under the Scout Rangers when he was personally recruited by Duterte in 1988 to join the “Lambada Boys,” a seven-man “liquidation squad” he said was the precursor of the DDS.The Lambada Boys, he said, was sent out to kill “criminals — pushers, rapists, snatchers every day.”“Ang trabaho lang po namin Ma’am, pumatay lang nang pumatay ng tao (Our only job was to kill and kill people),” he told Senator Leila De Lima.
Matubato said he and several DDS members were ordered, allegedly by Duterte, to ambush De Lima and her party and had positioned themselves on the hilly portion of the quarry. However, the attack was not carried out because De Lima said, “hindi na kami umabot doon (we did not reach that far).”
Motubato’s account, if true, is shocking, indeed. But what is even more shocking is the fact that De Lima presumably knew about all this information years ago because Matubato was under their witness protection program. Yet she didn’t do anything about it. One wonders why De Lima did not file a case against Duterte before he ran for President. De Lima was DOJ Secretary for 6 years but couldn’t produce a credible witness against Duterte. Now that she is under fire for her failure to stop the drug trade in the country’s penitentiary, the New Bilibid Prison and her own alleged involvement in the drug trade, all of a sudden she produced a witness who remembers every victim Duterte supposedly ordered killed.
It seems De Lima is trying to pin Duterte for something that he cannot be prosecuted for because, one, the alleged crimes were committed while he was still a mayor and, two, Duterte enjoys immunity from suit while he is President. The bottom line is, De Lima is wasting everyone’s time with information that is not needed in the hearing. Therefore, we can conclude that De Lima’s goal in inviting her witness is to engage in character assassination – something that she was against when Duterte divulge her affair with her driver.
Some people couldn’t help but notice that both De Lima and Senator Trillanes were asking the witness leading questions. Both senators also tried to stop Sentor Senator Alan Peter Cayetano from cross examining the witness. They wanted to limit his questioning time. Both De Lima & Trillanes seemed afraid the witness might implicate the Liberal Party in the plot to unseat Duterte. Cayetano insists that the hearing has turned into a demolition job against Duterte instead of a mere investigation on the extrajudicial killings.
Senators allied with the Liberal Party have used senate hearings in the past as a platform to persecute their political enemies. They know both the local and international media are watching and are using the opportunity to tear down Duterte’s reputation. They have done this several times in the past. They do not care about the repercussions in doing this. If investors lose trust in the Duterte administration, the economy might suffer and so will the Filipino people.
The members of the Liberal Party will not hesitate to damage the reputation of their enemies even if it means damaging the very fibre of Philippine society. Despite their façade of decency, the Liberal Party is not championing due process. If they were, they would also want to know if the witness is telling the truth. It seems they just want to grab power back by riling up the public and turning them against Duterte. Fortunately, a lot of people can see through what they are doing since they have done this to others so many times in the past. The pattern of their sociopathic behaviour is now too obvious. Only the gullible will believe them.
[Photo courtesy GMA News Online.]