Press Release
September 1, 2010

No whitewash in the Senate suspension of probe on hostage incident

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III yesterday defended the move taken by colleagues putting off the chamber's investigation into the 11-hour hostage drama last Aug. 23, saying dismissing any insinuation of a whitewash by the two committees.

Sen. Sotto said the decision was mainly to keep the proceedings focused on helping find remedial measures enhancing the rules of procedures of law enforcers in handling such incidents.

"We cannot prevent other panel members from asking questions during public hearings that will effectively divert to other issues other than the allegations of torture and need to review the Philippine National Police' rules of procedures in dealing with hostage crisis," he said.

Sen. Sotto's statements were in reference to Tuesday's pronouncements of Sen. Gregorio Honasan, chairman of the committee on public order and illegal drugs and overall led in the probe into the alleged torture of a PNP official and hostage crisis, suspending the ongoing inquiry to allow proper authorities to dispense of their job in conducting parallel investigation.

"I concur with it. As a matter of fact when he sought my opinion on conducting public hearings, I brought up the idea of postponing the proceedings dahil nakakadagdag lang tayo sa emosyon ng publiko. Pag ginamit yan, we could just end up to contributing to the downfall of the country by criticizing each other," he said.

Sen. Sotto lamented the fact that government officials, based on news reports, have been trying to pass the buck on the mishandling of the incident to the detriment of Filipinos working and visiting Hong Kong.

"We shouldn't lose focus. Let the authorities do their job, for the meantime. The called probe was not meant, in the first place, to determine the accountability of officials on top of the situation but rather aimed at reformulating of the authorities to prevent procedural lapses, should another incident take place," he said. "Let the investigations under the Executive do its worth peacefully and let's await for its result. In fact we are very hospitable by allowing the Hong Kong government to investigate on their own. Ayaw pa ba nila yun?" he asked.

Sen. Sotto said he was scheduled to deliver a privilege speech last Tuesday calling for public sobriety but decided to hold it off so as not to be misconstrued by other sectors.

"Baka makadagdag pa sa apoy kaya I decided to postpone it," the majority leader said.

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