Press Release
September 9, 2010

Excerpts from Kapihan sa Senado with Sen. Gringo Honasan

On why the hearings of the Senate on the hostage-taking incident was postponed

Please allow me to apologize to all of you. I had to provide a quorum to Senator Marcos in the organizational meeting and briefing of the housing sector. Siya kasi ang chairman ng Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Settlement. Anyway, as Manong Jun said, we decided to postpone the scheduled hearing today of the Committees on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, Justice and Human Rights, and Public Information to make sure that the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC) is able to complete its own formal hearings and come up with a report as soon as possible. So, what we plan to do is on Tuesday next week, we will have an inquiry based on the manifestation of Sen. Joker Arroyo last September 1 that will focus solely on media. Again, based on the prescription of Senator Arroyo, and his request is actually reasonable, we invite a limited guest list, namely: the representatives from ABS-CBN, GMA 7, Channel 5, Mr. Erwin Tulfo, and Mr. Mike Rogas only, with an open invitation to all members of media as observers, without prejudice to their being sworn-in, so that they can give their insights if necessary and warranted during the conduct of the inquiry.

Q: Is it limited to the broadcast media?

Again, based on the strong suggestion of Senator Arroyo, we will limit it muna to broadcast because broadcast was in center stage during the August 23 incident.

On whether the inquiry is being conducted jointly by the justice committee

No, that will be a separate hearing if we decide to push through with it because based on what we have observed in the marathon hearings of the IIRC, which, to my mind was well-moderated by Justice Secretary De Lima, it might be redundant if the Committee on Public Rights and Human Order will conduct the hearing. What can we do that the IIRC has not done? The only remaining task at hand is to wait for the report and maybe allow the committees involved to look into the record and the final investigation report. That, I think, would be more prudent and more cost-effective on our part without prejudice to the inquiry that will focus on media on Tuesday. Separate hearing for the alleged 'extortion' of a high-ranking officer from the Ombudsman

We should let that information speak for itself as we integrate backwards and look at the grievance mechanisms that are applied to our policemen. We already raised this issue with Secretary Robredo and he assured us that he is looking into it. We will take it from the perspective of possible legislative interventions. We will look at the weaknesses also of the Office of the Ombudsman. But, then again, we have to give everybody their day in Court. These are allegations, at best, during the IIRC hearings. We cannot jump the gun and conduct our own hearing until the formal investigation report is submitted.

Legal support for policemen with court cases

Inaamin mismo ng mga kasama natin sa kapulisan na very weak ang legal support services para sa mga pulis natin na nasasakdal o nahaharass. In fact, maaalala ninyo, although it was limited, we made amendments to the mechanism na kapag inereklamo ka, dapat hindi mapigil ang promotion mo until there is a determination of probable cause. At within two years, kung mapatunayan na may kasalanan ka at na-promote ka na, babawiin 'yung ranggo mo. There have been steps towards that direction but I feel it is still inadequate. Now, the other point is dapat omnibus ang approach natin dito. 'Yung mga ahensiya kung saan inirereklamo ang mga pulis natin, maaaring ayusin lang 'yung records para maiwasan ang duplication.

Giving the Ombudsman a time frame to act on petitions

Nakikita natin sa news reports the backlog of cases in our courts nationwide. Tambak-tambak na papeles ang nakatali. In other words, wala silang filing system. So, should we expect more from the Ombudsman as an example of this recurring backlog? It may take a serious look at the law not only governing the Ombudsman but our entire Justice system. Di ba justice delayed is justice denied? 'Yung delay lang injustice na 'yun lalo na kung sinuspinde ang sahod at promotion mo. Unfair talaga ito.

On whether the committee will investigate Secretary Robredo

First, we will find out if there was a weakness or failure in the law. Second, ang pagkukulang ba ay sa implementation lamang or baka hindi masyadong religious sa pagtupad ng tungkulin ang mga opisina o ahensiya na dapat magpatupad nito or all of the above. We will be looking at the DILG secretary who wears two hats: chairman ng NAPOLCOM at secretary of interior and local government under whom a bureau like the Philippine National Police operates. The Crisis Management Committee, chief PNP, NCRPO or the ground commander of the Manila Police Department. That's how the committee will approach it from an institutional point of view.

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