‘Let’s not be watchers, outsiders while criminals flout the law’ — Gordon

Published July 30, 2020, 4:22 PM

by Mario Casayuran

 Following the recent assassination of National Center for Mental Health chief Roland Cortez and his driver, Senator Richard J. Gordon has urged his fellow lawmakers not to be reduced to being mere watchers as riding-in-tandem (R-I-T) assassins continue to perpetrate their ill-will upon the people.

Senator Richard Gordon
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In a virtual privilege speech in yesterday’s plenary session, Gordon reminded his fellow senators that they have all sworn to provide justice for every man, adding that the 1,234 victims of R-I-T killings last year alone and 35,000 from 2010 to 2019 have yet to be given justice.

“All these things are happening and we’re reduced to mere watching. Mere watchers, mere outsiders in these terrible tragedies that are occurring all the time in our country…What are we going to do about this when we are sworn by our oaths of office to make sure that we fight for justice and it seems that we can never do so? We have to act with justice.  In our oath of office, we swear to provide justice for every man. Even our Constitution says that. So today, I make this appeal, this is not the first time I raised my voice against this and I don’t think it will be the last because if we don’t move, wala talagang mangyayari sa atin,” the senator noted. (Nothing will happen to us).

Gordon is chairman of the Senate justice and human rights committee, and Senate Blue Ribbon committee.

“If we don’t act, aren’t we partly guilty by our inaction, by our passivity, by our complacency that this has not stopped? How can we not be in a sea of troubles in a flimsy raft, knowing that this sea of syndicates perpetrating their ill-will upon us is so darn powerful, that we are helpless?” he added.

Gordon pointed out that Congress has, not just the power of the purse, but also the power to call in government officials who are not carrying out their functions. Hence, they could ensure that laws, such as those aiming to promote peace and order and to protect the people, are enforced judiciously.

“We are the peoples’ representatives and I would say that we have a say. We have a say, not only in the power of the purse, but also a say in the sense that we can bring them in if they don’t want to do their job, they keep saying na marami kaming problema (we have many problems); they keep shoving it under the rug,” Gordon said, adding that they have already passed the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act of 2019 but the Land Transportation  Office has yet to enforce it, almost two years after it was enacted into law.

“As we go into the budget, let us not forget this. Certainly, I will be asking a lot of questions to our policemen. We should be asking questions on all the CCTVs that have been put up by the mayors and the barangay captains. We should be asking questions to the LTO (Land Transportation Office), after almost two years now, they have not yet put up the plate numbers. And not just for these plate numbers for motorcycles, but for other plate numbers in the past. Have we become a country that allows people to flout the law? To say, we have not been able to do it and sorry na lang? Ganyan na lang ba ang tatanggapin natin? (Shall we just accept it?) Once in a while, we must be reminded that we are being fooled around with by many of our compatriots who are in the government,” he added.