Press Release
September 7, 2021

Opening Statement
September 7, 2021, 10:00 AM


Again, good morning, everyone!

In 2014, the news broke regarding 1,004 missing high-powered firearms per PNP inventory that was later on reported to have been found in the possession of NPA rebels. Pitong taon na ang nakalipas, ano na nga ba ang nangyari sa isyu na ito? May napanagot na ba dahil sa pangyayaring ito? Ano ang naging aksyon ng ating kapulisan dahil sa nangyaring ito?

The issues surrounding the case at hand does not simply concern the loss of firearms. The most disturbing and alarming part is the circumvention of our laws and regulations by unscrupulous persons in order to abet communist rebels and enemies of the State by providing and selling these high-powered firearms.

I spent most of the early years of my career as a lieutenant in the Philippine Constabulary. I had firsthand experience in fighting against the communist terrorists of this country. Many police officers, military personnel and innocent civilians have been killed in the hands of this communist-terrorist group. This is why I myself cannot tolerate and condone the alleged selling of rifles to this group. Hindi ko talaga matanggap na nagamit ang ating kapulisan upang magkaroon ng armas ang mga komunista na maari pang magamit at makapatay sa maraming inosenteng Filipino.

I hope that thru this Committee, we can thresh out all the points surrounding the issues involved to ascertain the loopholes in our current firearms laws and regulations, with the end goal of amending and strengthening the same.

I would like to emphasize that the Committee is fully-aware of the criminal cases pending under the Sandiganbayan regarding the issue at bar. Nonetheless, we are also fully cognizant of the Congressional power of inquiry of the Senate enshrined under Section 21, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, to wit: "The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules and procedures. The rights of persons appearing or affected by such inquiries shall be respected."

The Supreme Court have made it clear in the landmark case of Arnault v. Nazareno, GR No. L3820, July 18, 1950, that: "The power of inquiry---with process to enforce it---is an essential and appropriate auxiliary to the legislative function. A legislative body cannot legislate wisely or effectively in the absence of information respecting the conditions which the legislation is intended to affect or change; and where the legislative body does not itself possess the requisite information---which is not infrequently true---recourse must be had to others who possess it."

Furthermore, in the case of Senate vs. Ermita (G.R. No. 169777, 20 April 2006), it was held that: "Congress undoubtedly has a right to information from the executive branch whenever it is sought in aid of legislation." To this end, Congress' power of inquiry is inherent in the power to legislate.

Despite the fact that there is a pending case in the Sandiganbayan, the Supreme Court has specifically expounded, in the case of Standard Chartered Bank vs. Senate Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, GR No. 16713, December 27, 2007 that the "mere filing of a criminal or an administrative complaint before a court or quasi-judicial body should not automatically bar the conduct of legislative investigation. Otherwise, it would be extremely easy to subvert any intended inquiry by Congress through the convenient ploy of instituting a criminal or administrative complaint." Moreover, it must stressed that a legislative investigation in aid of legislation and court proceedings have different purposes.

Accordingly, the invited resource persons have their duty to cooperate, to respond to questions, to respect the dignity of the Senate and its committees and to testify fully in the matters under investigation. Kaya ngayon inaasahan ko ang kooperasyon ng lahat ng ating mga panauhin para matulungan ang komiteng ito.

This hearing is not to point fingers to someone else. This hearing is with a purpose to monitor bureaucratic compliance and to ascertain if the laws passed by Congress have been implemented as to its purpose.

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