Palace nixes Senate probe on drug killings

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 11 2016 04:53 PM | Updated as of Jul 11 2016 06:50 PM

MANILA - Malacañang dismissed as baseless Senator Leila de Lima's call for a Senate probe into the killings of drug suspects.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the investigation is nothing but "an attempt to discredit the legitimacy of police operations against the drug menace."
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"While it's the duty of a member of Congress to initiate investigation with respect to the Senate investigation involving killings of drug pushers, it appears as I can see it there is no basis other than speculation and conjecture,'' Panelo said.

''First, as a manner of protocol and procedure, the police agency conducts immediately an investigation when a civilian is killed in the process of arrest. Second, I don't hear any investigation coming from the human rights commission any attempt. Therefore to conduct a Senate investigation by any member especially of that particular Senator who wants to conduct the investigation may be viewed as an attempt to discredit the legitimacy of police operations against the drug menace."

De Lima, a former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), earlier said there are "telltale signs" that some of the drug suspects being killed by law enforcers are victims of summary executions.

"Nakakaduda yung explanation na nanlaban, nang-agaw..." she said.

De Lima to SolGen: I will not be intimidated

She rejected Solicitor General Jose Calida's claim that a complaint must be filed first before the Senate can open an investigation in aid of legislation. She said the Senate inquiries on the January 2015 Mamasapano operation, the P10 billion PDAF scandal and the dispersal of farmers in Kidapawan were all conducted prior to the filing of a complaint.

"Ngayon ko lang narinig yan na dapat may complaint before calling for a Senate inquiry...Why insist now on the prior filing of a complaint when it is not in the rules? There is also precedence," de Lima said.

She also said a complaint has already been filed before the Commission on Human Rights.

PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY

Calida has accused De Lima of being only after ''media mileage'' for calling for a Senate probe into the spate of drug-related killings.

He said there is "presumption of regularity" after critics questioned why so many of the drug suspects being killed allegedly tried to fight back.

He added that a Senate investigation "dampens the morale of our men in uniform."

"They are risking their lives and here comes this senator...She is maligning the good name of police officers who put their lives on the line," he said.

De Lima Questioned why Calida was ordering police not to attend the proposed Senate investigation on the killings.

"Why is there such a reaction? If they are confident na sinusunod lahat ng dapat sundin, bakit ganyan ang reaction?" she said.

Since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office on June 30, the number of drug suspects killed has breached the 100 mark.