MANILA – Incoming Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III is bent on reopening the hearings on the alleged "blue book" that lists down the names of alleged big time drug pushers and carjackers in the country.
"Hindi lang bubuhayin, dapat tumawag tayo ng continuous hearing pagkat di natapos yun. Hindi porke't natapos yung Congress hindi na pwede yung issue," Sotto said in a phone interview with DZMM on Friday.
The blue book was obtained during a raid by the Philippine National Police and the Department of the Interior and Local Government in 2011.
READ: DILG urged to release carjackers' ‘blue book’
Sotto said he did not see the contents of the blue book, which allegedly had a list of names of officials from government who are involved in illegal drugs and carjacking activities in the country.
He said the blue book used to be with DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, who died in a plane crash in August 2012.
"Noong naghe-hearing kami, si Secretary Jess Robredo ang may hawak noon. Pero di ko matandaan kung sumakabilang buhay na siya noon o hindi pa. Pero ayaw nilang ibigay. Medyo nainis nga ako ng konti kaya nag-file ako ng motion for the committee to issue a subpoena duces tecum para makuha namin yun dahil ayaw nilang ibigay," he said.
He lamented that until now, no subpoena has been issued.
No other hearings were conducted after the Senate became busy investigating a different issue.
"Hindi porke't namatay na yung 16th Congress hindi na pwede yan. Sa 17th Congress, ire-reiterate ko lang yung motion para makuha ng Senado, tamang-tama ang magiging chairman ng public order si Ping Lacson," he said.
But, does the blue book still exist?
"Mananagot sila pag hindi pa buhay yun. Anong ginawa nila? Sinunog nila? Tinapon nila?" he asked.
On Thursday, Arsenio "Boy" Evangelista, spokesperson of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) raised the possibility of investigating the blue book once again after raising concern over the increasing number of drug-related arrests and killings in the country. Majority of those arrested and killed are not even the illegal trade's "big fish", he said.
READ: All for show? VACC raises questions about rise in drug arrests, slays
The senator also echoed the VACC's concern.
"Siguro, kung talagang pusher yan at lumalaban yan wala tayong magagawa. Pero sa ibang bansa, lalo na sa America, kapag ang mga pulis nakapatay kahit na obvious na obvious na self-defense, iniimbistigahan lahat yun at medyo confined to quarters kung di man suspended," he said. "Ang tanong, ano ba ang ginawa dito sa mga pulis?"
At least 40 drug suspects have been killed since President-elect Rodrigo Duterte's May 9 election victory, compared with the 39 deaths recorded in the four months before it. The PNP said there have been over 3,700 drug-related arrests from May 10 to June 15, 2016.
Sotto said it is possible that some of the drug-related slays could be rivals killing each other, or corrupt cops killing their "assets."
Last May, Duterte announced that he has set aside P3 million as "bounty" for drug traffickers, "dead or alive."
READ: Dead or alive: P3-M bounty for drug lords ready
But Sotto believes that the reward can come later and the proper procedures must be followed first.
"Kung tama at malinis lahat. Palagay ko nasa rules of engagement nila yan kahit sa mga procedures nila nandido yan. Pagkatapos ng encounter, surrender lahat ng firearms, suspended muna, under investigation…ganun dapat lahat," he said. "Hindi naman puro pintas lang tayo. Meron naman tayong remedy."
On July 1, Sotto said he will file Senate Bill 01 creating the Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority under the Office of the President. The bill will cover enforcement, prosecution, rehabilitation and even prevention.
"I-a-upgrade natin yung DDB-PDEA (Dangerous Drugs Board-Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) together pero hindi na magkakaroon sila ng sariling nilang enforcement ....wala nang bangga sa PNP ito," he said.