MANILA — A gag order from a Manila City court did not stop the Senate from proceeding Tuesday with its investigation into the issues surrounding the P6.7-billion shabu seized in Manila in October 2022 involving ranking police officers.
During the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs hearing, panel chairperson Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa disclosed that Manila City Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 177 has issued a gag order for the drug case involving police Master Sgt. Rodolfo Mayo Jr. and Ney Saligumba Atadero.
Dela Rosa said the gag order was requested by the prosecution.
"All the counsels, litigants, witnesses and other parties involved in these cases are strictly enjoined to observe the subjudice rule and are thus prohibited from publicly discussing the merits and divulging the developments of these cases to the media during the pendency of the cases," the senator said.
Citing the power of Congress to conduct inquiries "in aid of legislation," Dela Rosa decided to continue the investigation.
"While we recognize the gag order... this committee will continue to conduct its legislative function and use its power of inquiry in aid of legislation as provided in the 1987 Constitution," the former national police chief said.
During the hearing, Philippine National Police (PNP) Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management chief Maj. Gen. Eliseo Cruz said Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) 990 concluded that 49 members of the Drug Enforcement Group violated several laws during and after the Oct. 2022 raid.
Sen. Bong Revilla then reiterated his push for the return of death penalty in order to prevent more cops from committing similar crimes that are being alleged.
"Kailangan ba ibalik na ang bitay para mapatino natin ang mga ito? When the people ought to enforce the law are the very ones who break it, shouldn’t the gavel fall hardest on them?" Revilla said, with Dela Rosa agreeing.
Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos had said the drugs seized in the October 2022 operation was "probably the biggest drug haul in the history of the Philippines."