Press Release
September 19, 2016

Cayetano: EJK hearings damaging image of the Senate & the entire PH

"We have to save our nation from the efforts of a few people to destroy the image of our country, our economy, and the future of our next generation."

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano said this as he appealed to his fellow lawmakers to be one in guarding the country against efforts of some politicians to discredit the administration's campaign for real change.

Cayetano delivered a privilege speech on Monday (September 19), a few days after the Senate Justice and Human Rights Committee held another hearing on the alleged extrajudicial killings being linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's strong anti-drug policy.

During last week's probe, self-confessed "Davao Death Squad" (DDS) member Edgar Matobato was grilled by some senators for giving inconsistent statements regarding his knowledge of the killings that happened in Davao during Duterte's term as mayor.

Cayetano for his part called out committee chairperson Senator Leila De Lima for failing to vet the witness and test Matobato's credibility before allowing him to testify in the inquiry.

He also questioned the conduct of the previous proceedings, particularly on how De Lima failed to provide members of the committee with a list of witnesses prior to the hearing and how she denied Cayetano of his right to finish his interpellation of Matobato.

"Kitang-kita ang bias ng ilang senador laban sa krusada ng Pangulo," Cayetano decried.

"Even if the [suspected] DDS or the killings in Davao had no place in the present EJK hearings, they brought that surprise witness without informing the co-Chairman, Senator [Panfilo] Lacson, without informing the members... Our tradition is that when we have a surprise witness, we keep that identity a surprise... but we let the members know that there will be a key member... Kaya maraming hindi nag-attend eh," he explained.

Cayetano, who had been expressing his doubt over the real motive of the probe, lamented how some politicians are using the Senate in their plot to damage Duterte's reputation and reclaim power in government. He said the continuous efforts to discredit the administration have also taken a heavy toll on the country's image worldwide.

"The Senate is being used to mislead the public and the international media. Noong una, to discredit the President and his efforts. But ngayon, iba na," he noted.

"Now... the effort [is destroying] the image of our country abroad... Second, [it is destroying] the image of the Senate as an institution, distracting us from more urgent work that needs to be done. And third, [it is] destroying our long-honored traditions of collegiality, civility, of disagreeing but allowing the other person to speak freely."

The senator then appealed to his colleagues to remain focused on helping the administration win in its ongoing war against poverty, crime, illegal drugs, corruption, and terrorism, as opposed to fueling the negative impact of the smear campaigns against the President.

"The President is fighting three wars... The War against poverty, which includes leveling a playing field that by and large only oligarchs grow and prosper, while the greater majority struggles just to survive; The War against crime, illegal drugs, and corruption; [and] The War on war, or the quest for a just and inclusive peace and an end to the decades-long communist insurgency as well as other rebellions in our country," Cayetano said.

"In the end, we might all lose this war. But the biggest loser will not be President Duterte. It will be the economy, the political institutions, and the entire nation. Why should we allow our Institution to be used this way," he added.

Following Cayetano's speech, Senator Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao moved to declare as vacant the chairmanship and entire membership of the Senate Justice and Human Rights committee.

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