Senate ends hearings on extrajudicial killings

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Commission on Human Rights Chairman Chito Gascon talks to Senator Leila De Lima

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) - The Senate on Thursday ended its probe on alleged extrajudicial killings related to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.

And again, Senators had some heated arguments with each other.

Senator Leila de Lima was stunned when she learned that the Justice and Human Rights Committee would no longer hear the testimonies of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and its witnesses.

Committee chairman Richard Gordon said he instead wants to take up the bill reimposing the death penalty filed by Senator Manny Pacquaio.

But De Lima pressed her case.

"I think it is just fair that we give the chair of the Commission on Human Rights to make a statement, to explain the side of the Commission on Human Rights," De Lima told the committee.

But Gordon would not allow any CHR representative or witnesses to speak despite Senate's invitation to CHR Chairman Chito Gascon.

Gordon said he does not approve of the critical remarks of a CHR commissioner against him and the Senate inquiry on extrajudicial killings.

But Gascon said the statement of a commissioner does not necessarily reflect that of the whole agency.

"Handa po kami na makipag ugnayan sa kumite," Gascon said. [We are ready to cooperate with the committee.]

"We do wish to express that we are respectful of the Senate and its prerogatives."

De Lima again said she is unaware that the death penalty bill is a priority on the agenda over the extrajudicial killings probe.

She then questions the procedure in discussing the bill.

"I raise a point or order and I want that decided on by the committee," De Lima said.

But no one among the members of the committee seconded her motion.

"There case to be no second motion so the motion is overruled," Gordon said.

Also read: UN rights body to PH: 'Promptly, thoroughly' probe drug killings

But discussions on extrajudicial killings went on anyway since the resource persons were not prepared to talk about death penalty.

Senator Panfilo Lacson then asked authorities on the sudden rise in the number of killings. But the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said there's no such rise, and it's practically the same as to the previous administration.

Gordon, meanwhile, criticized the police for the slow investigation of suspected abuses by policemen.

In the end, CHR Chairman Gascon was also allowed to say a few statements.

Senator Gordon said initially, the hearings failed to prove that the President is involved in the so-called Davao Death Squad.

He also said that the committee will try to come-up with a report by Monday.

CNN Philippines' Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.

Also read: PNP Chief Dela Rosa stands by the war on drugs