The Senate will push through with its scheduled hearing concerning the shootout between members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), but Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Saturday that they will not directly investigate the incident.
Sotto clarified that the legislative inquiry set by the Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs on Tuesday, March 2, does not intend to delve into what transpired in the recent “misencounter” between the PNP and the PDEA, but on his proposal to create a single anti-drug enforcement agency.
“Hindi naman directly imbestigasyon ang sa amin (Ours will not be a direct investigation),” he said in an interview with over radio DWIZ.
He also recalled that he specifically tasked Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, the committee’s chairperson, to take up his Senate Bill No. 3 to address such incidents.
The House of Representatives’ committee on dangerous drugs already decided to suspend its probe following President Duterte’s order the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) be the sole agency to investigate it.
As for the Senate, Sotto said they cannot be prevented from conducting inquiries in aid of legislation. Dela Rosa, anyway, can “easily” avoid taking up the misencounter.
“Sa amin, madaling iwasan ‘yon. Pwede namang iwasan ni Bato kaagad ‘yon. Pwedeng pag-usapan namin sa Lunes sa kanya na ‘Oh, pag-usapan lang natin ‘yong bill. Hindi natin kailangan alamin kung ano ang nangyari doon, sino nagkamali doon (We easily avoid that. Bato can just skip discussing that. I can talk to him on Monday and tell him to focus on the bill. We do not need to know what happened or who was at fault),” he said.
“Ako, hindi ako interesado ano nangyari doon (I am not interested with what happened there). We can always think of our own conjecture kung ano man ‘yong mga pangyayari doon (on whatever happened there). Hindi importante ‘yon (That’s not important),” he further said.
Sotto was confident that the problem was that the intention the Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 was not followed.
One of the prinicipal authors of law, he said the PDEA was not created to be a police force to only go after drug peddlers.
In his Senate Bill No. 3, the Senate leader is pushing the establishment of a “Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority” to serve as the “supervising agency for the proper, more effective and efficient implementation” of the RA 9165.
“It places Enforcement, Prosecution, Prevention and Rehabilitation all in one super body!” Sotto explained earlier.
But the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB) and the PDEA, which would be dissolved as an effect of the measure, opposed the proposal.
“Huwag na nila kontrahin ‘yong Senate Bill No. 3. Huwag na sila mag-akala mawawalan ng trabaho, nakakabwisit na, eh. Tapos ganyan mangyayari sa kanila, sila-sila nagpapapatayan (They should not oppose my Senate Bill No. 3. They should not think that they will lose their jobs, it’s irritating. Look at what is happening to them, they end up killing each other),” Sotto said.
He said the bill will address the lack of coordination between law enforcement agencies in implementing the anti-drug law.