MANILA – Senator Leila de Lima has filed her own report on the existence of state-sanctioned extrajudicial killings, dismissing the report of a committee headed by Senator Richard Gordon as a “virtual whitewash designed to absolve the national leadership” of accountability.
"This Dissenting Report aims to provide an alternative analysis of the facts presented and the conclusions deduced therefrom based on applicable laws and rules," De Lima said in her 151-page report.
"The objective is to present to the Senate and, ultimately, to the Filipino people what this Representation honestly believes to be the just conclusions and proper courses on the issues at hand."
De Lima, as then head of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, led a legislative probe into the spate of killings connected to the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
Latest data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) shown last week revealed that a total of 5,882 people have been killed across the country since President Duterte launched his war on illegal drugs.
De Lima earned the ire of the government after she presented Edgar Matobato, a self-proclaimed of the so-called Davao Death Squad who said he killed on orders of Duterte, a long-time mayor of Davao City.
She also presented witnesses who demonstrated how the police abused their authority and get away with the killings of suspected drug criminals.
Following these developments, Senator Manny Pacquiao called for the ouster of De Lima as committee chair, paving the way for Gordon to take the helm.
The Gordon-led committee report said it found no proof that the drug killings in the country were state sanctioned.
De Lima slammed the findings of the committee, saying many details were left out and the legislative inquiry prematurely terminated.
She also criticized Gordon for taking issue on her alleged unparliamentary behavior and that of her colleague, Sen. Antonio Trillanes, during the public hearing.
"Due to the premature and abrupt termination of the Senate investigation, no comprehensive, in-depth gathering, and assessment of the evidence was done by the Committee. Instead, what came out was a virtual whitewash designed to absolve the national leadership as led by the President," she said.
"The unreasonable exclusion of important witnesses had precluded a thorough and intensive treatment of the subject of EJKs.”
In her dissenting report, De Lima called on the Senate to look into the alleged irregularities in the preparation, routing and filing of the Gordon report and study the propriety of enforcing the standing Senate rules on all the committees.
She also called on the government to ensure that the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on Summary Executions Agnes Callamard will be able to conduct her investigation here in the country unhampered.
For his part, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the increase in number of vigilante killings has become worrisome. He challenged the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to create special task groups to look into vigilante-type killings involving drug personalities.
"Kasi nakaka-worry na. 2/3 ng 5,800 or almost 6,000, 2/3 doon perpetrated by vigilantes, riding in tandem, and 1/3 ang legitimate police operations," said Lacson.
"Even ang legitimate police operations sometimes may question mark, may questions that need to be addressed or answered," he added.