The five hearings conducted by the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee on the spate of local executives killings, have underlined the need to impose death penalty on politicians maintaining private armed groups as well as on highly-skilled dismissed uniformed personnel working in private armies, its chairman said.
Panel head Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa said he will immediately include these steps in the report that he will soon submit to the committee for possible adoption.
He is only awaiting the remaining affidavits of other resource persons before writing his report, the senator said.
"Dapat din siguro kasi sila (politicians) ang pinaka-mastermind nyan eh. Dapat kasama sila sa death penalty. Tama, good suggestion," dela Rosa told journalists when asked if political warlords should also be slapped with capital punishment.
"Dapat bigyan ng heavier penalty yung mga former members of the security forces ano. Lalong-lalo na na ginamit nila ang kanilang nalalaman, yung kanilang training na natanggap from the government, or particularly, from the Armed Forces, from the [Philippine National Police]. Gagamitin nila ito pambiktima ng mga helpless civilians... death penalty pala yun, hindi reclusion perpetua ang ating pagu-usapan," dela Rosa added.
In the chairman’s report which he will be writing, the death penalty recommendation will cover active and former policemen and soldiers taking part in private army activities, the senator said.
“Kasi very deadly itong mga tao na ito. Kapag hindi sila nagisip-isip na di sila mabibitay, sasabihin nila, 'Ah hindi naman tayo mabibitay nito. Sige, tanggapin natin pera ni politician x at i-carry out natin gusto mangyari.' Pero kapag maisip nila na 'Uy bitay tayo rito pag tayo’y mahuli.' Maghuhunos dili sila,” dela Rosa explained.
Aside from the reimposition of the death penalty, dela Rosa is also eyeing to amend the Omnibus Election Code, specifically, one that will totally prohibit the entry of “nuisance candidates” in every electoral exercise.
That issue of nuisance candidate according to dela Rosa, was the root cause of the Degamo killing.
“Yung particular provision na yan about nuisance candidates doon sa Omnibus Elec Code is recommended by the Comelec Chairman (George Garcia) himself, ay dapat ma-amend ang provision na iyan,” dela Rosa said.
The senator also targets the removal of local executives’ authority – as stated in the Local Government Code – to choose the police provincial director and police regional director in his or her territory.
Provincial directors must be appointed by the Philippine National Police’s National Headquarters, while choosing chiefs of police must be given to either the provincial or regional director of the PNP, dela Rosa said.
By removing such provision he said, police officials will no longer be indebted to any politician and can act more independently.
“Ma-minimize yan if not totally eliminated pag wala nang utang na loob ang pulis doon sa pulitiko. Wala naman akong pakialam dyan, eh tagilid ang request mo eh. Ikaka-pahamak ko yan eh... hindi ka naman maka-cause ng pagtanggal ko o pagka-appoint ko dito. So, pwede nilang isnabin yung mga boardering to illegal request or illegal orders coming from these politicians,” dela Rosa stressed.
He will also recommend to the COMELEC to defer the October Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in Negros Oriental, for at least 30 days, the senator said.
DEGAMO VS TEVES
Dela Rosa said the panel’s hearings that centered on all forms of violence in Negros Oriental were also able to establish that neither the Degamo camp nor Teves group is 100 percent innocent.
While many testified supported by evidence, some resource persons gave narratives that were only aimed at destroying the name of certain individuals, he assessed.
“Nobody can claim from both camps that they are absolutely clean... May katotohanan din yung mga sinasabi nila, pero yun nga, resulting to character assassination yung ibang sinasabi, dalawang kampo ang naglalabanan trying to destroy each other,” dela Rosa told journalists.
“Isipin mo, pati nag-ihi ng katabi sinisilip. Napaka-unneccessary naman yun kaya ayaw ko entertain-in. Pati kabit-kabit, hindi naman sila makapag-provide ng evidence. Character assassination ang nangyayari... marunong naman yung committee natin mag-weigh ng mga sinasabi nila,” he added.
Dela Rosa said, they decided not to pry much on the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo since the Department of Justice is already on top of the situation.
Still he concluded that it was Teves who masterminded Degamo’s assassination.
“Ilang beses namang sinasabi na si (Arnolfo) Teves ang mastermind. Ilang beses naman nang sinasabi. Hindi ba meron nang revelation ang mga nahuling gunmen, kasama sa tumira na Teves ang nag-hire sa kanila. Yun na,” dela Rosa said.
Dela Rosa said suspended Congressman Arnolfo Teves, Jr. only showed his brusqueness during the present administration.
He, however, noted that as Chief of the Philippine National Police sometime in 2017-2018, he already received intelligence information about the killings happening in Negros Oriental which are either linked to the Degamos or Teveses.
“During my time, hindi pa kasi siga si Teves, just to be frank with you, hindi pa siya nagpapakita ng kasigaan kasi alam talaga nya tatamaan s'ya sa akin at tatamaan s'ya kay President Duterte kung magpakitaka ng ganung klaseng kasigaan. Just like what he did, ito ngayon. I’m sure tatamaan siya,” dela Rosa stressed.
“Noon meron akong intelligence report, alam ko na na merong namamatay sa Negros na ang suspect mga Teves. Meron din namatay doon ang suspect mga Degamo. So, sabi ko nga sabi ko nga nobody’s clean... if I am at the center of the fence both sides walnag malinis. merong allegations,” the senator added.
Dela Rosa is eyeing to submit his report while there is still time for the Comelec to suspend the BSKE in Negros Oriental.
They will still discuss what to recommend about Teves’s case.