Incoming senators Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson, Leila de Lima and Risa Hontiveros declared that they will not be stopped from doing their job in spite of the presumptive president’s statement last Wednesday, June 8.
At a victory party in Cebu City, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte proclaimed to his supporters that congressmen, which also included presumptive House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, should not interfere with his anti-crime campaign by conducting congressional investigations.
It has been known that the former Davao City mayor was elected on his anti-crime platform by taking down all lawbreakers. He announced earlier that some of his initiatives were giving huge bounties to those who would capture drug lords and returning the death penalty with hanging as its official method of execution.
However, the three Senators-elect responded their disagreement differently.
Lacson stated that the Senate works differently compared to a provincial, city or municipal council, wherein they can be commanded by local management. He asserted that the President should not get in the way of their mandated duties.
“Having said that, we will conduct investigations in aid of legislation whenever necessary, and nobody, not even the President of the Republic, can dictate and stop us from doing our job,” he said.
Lacson, who is slated to take over the committee for public order and dangerous drugs, also noted that the Senate can also use their power to issue subpoenas and name people who disregard its authority for contempt.
On the other hand, De Lima said that Duterte’s statement intended to show the people his administration’s “intolerance to any form or measure of checks to possible abuses,” but left a ‘chilling mark’ on the Congress instead. She also stated that while she is a solid supporter of fighting against crime and corruption, she felt that the President-elect did not have a clear idea of checks and balances.
The incoming committee head on justice and human rights believed that despite Duterte’s warnings, some lawmakers would still push through examining government abuses and “continue to fulfill their mandate as the people’s last guarantee against a possible tyranny of the executive branch.”
She also stated she would not delay any legitimate operations against crime, seeing it as a pointless pursuit if she, along with others from the Senate and the House, will hinder law enforcement just for the sake of conducting investigations. However, she warned that she would be vigilant if the anti-crime campaign tramples on human rights and defies the rule of law.
“When this so-called all-out war against crime is conducted without regard for the rule of law and human rights, then I think it would be an abdication of our mandate if we keep our eyes closed to abuses in the name of fighting criminality,” she said.
In her side, Hontiveros explained that Senate investigations could improve the efforts to eradicate crime and corruption. She also noted that the process should not be taken as a hindrance, but should be seen as a process to avoid or correct any possible extremes in its trial.
Hontiveros hoped that their other co-equal government branches respect each other in carrying out their duties, much like what Lacson stressed.
“In a civilized society, respect deserves respect. On the other hand, unmannerliness deserves some rudeness,” he was quoted on saying.
The House of Representatives has not given their reactions since Tuesday.
To secure their leadership in major House committees, representatives from the chamber have been traveling to Davao during the past few days to pledge their allegiance to the incoming president.