Sen. Lacson’s Opening Statement at the Hearing:
A pleasant morning to everyone present in this hearing of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs… This hearing is called in reference to the following Senate Resolutions:
P.S. Resolution No. 901 entitled “Resolution Directing the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs to Conduct an Inquiry, In Aid of Legislation, Into the Assassination of and Attacks Against Local Government Officials, with the End View of Conducting an Assessment of the Peace and Order Situation in the Country and Amending Republic Act No. 6975, as Amended,” by Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV;
P.S. Resolution No. 979 entitled “Resolution Urging the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs to Conduct an Inquiry, In Aid of Legislation, Into the Political Killings that Claimed the Lives of Incumbent Public Officials, with the End Goal of Formulating More Effective Measures of Law Enforcement and Investigation in Relation to said Cases which are Relatively More Sensitive Due to Possible Involvement of Incumbent Public Officials Who Wield Substantial Power and Influence,” by Senator Grace Poe; and
P.S. Resolution No. 1008 entitled “Resolution Directing the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs and Other Appropriate Senate Committees to Conduct an Investigation, In Aid of Legislation, on the Brutal Killing of Richard Santillan, Security Aide of Atty. Glenn Chong, a Former Lawmaker and Known Election Reform Advocate; and into the Recent Cases of Election-Related Violence, with the End Goal of Crafting Measures that will be More Effective in Ensuring Public Order and Safety During Election Period,” authored by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and this representation.
Allow me to open this hearing by lifting the words of Mr. Tony Benn, former member of the European Parliament. And I quote: “If given a chance to meet a powerful person, ask them five questions: What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?”
He further added that “if you cannot get rid of the people who govern you, you do not live in a democratic system.”
In our country, the same is possible through the exercise of the right of suffrage. But recent reports tell us that that some people resort to other means.
The significant increase in the number of victims of election-related violence has become very alarming. As a result, we are all here today to assess and discuss possible legislative measures or amendments to our existing laws in response to our concern at hand.
Since our resolutions have a handful of names, let’s try not to dwell so much on details that are within the domain of prosecution and the courts, and let us focus more on what we can do in adherence to our mandate of legislation.
We should start with having the same mindset that armed violence is already rooted in the culture of our society, and it happens even outside election period. To my mind, I want this committee to focus on the following:
1. The policies being implemented by law enforcement for prevention, treatment and response to politically motivated and/or election-related crimes;
2. Our recent policies regarding the ownership, possession and carrying of firearms and the movement thereof. Also, I would like to grab this opportunity to focus on the issue of loose firearms: figures, supply control, recovery and demand reduction.
3. Measures being implemented to curb the problem of private armed groups (PAB) or private armies; and finally if we still have time,
4. The relationship of these crimes to political monopoly.
Before we start, allow me to ask, what’s with the title “Congressman,” “Mayor,” or even “Barangay Captain” that motivate the election-related violence and killings? Are these deaths the result of a political rival’s eagerness to genuinely serve the public? That seems a horrible thought. Of course, the answer is no. But how I wish so, only with respect to the intent to having leaders replaced by ones with genuine intent to serve – but of course not with the other means.
Let us proceed.