Senate to investigate ‘Dasmagate’ incident

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014


SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel III believed the rights of Dasmariñas security guards have been violated by Makati City police authorities in the so-called "Dasmagate" incident last November.

Pimentel said the Senate will investigate the Dasmariñas gate incident involving Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. for the supposed arbitrary arrests of village security guards.

"This unfortunate incident highlights the need for Congress as well as the leadership of our law enforcement agencies to review the standard operating procedure on effecting arrests, particularly warrantless arrests, by law enforcement agents," Pimentel said.

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The senator was referring to the incident last November 30, 2013 at the Dasmariñas Village where security guards barred a four-car convoy of Mayor Binay from exiting through the Banyan gate, in accordance with village rules. Binay's eldest sister, Senator Nancy Binay, was in one of the cars in the convoy.

Pimentel, who chairs the Senate committee on justice and human rights, will focus the Senate investigation in aid of legislation on the practice of police authorities to forcibly take persons to police stations for questioning in the guise of an "invitation."

The Senate inquiry is prompted by reports of alleged abuses by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement agencies in violating the rights of the people against unreasonable searches and seizures, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention.

The senator said the need to respect another's dignity regardless of his/her status in society.

"These security guards are protected under the Constitution," Pimentel said.

He said that the 1987 Constitution ordains the protection and full guarantee of human rights while the Universal Declaration of Human everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person.

He also said that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that no "one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law."

But he said a closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage last November captured a scene where three security guards of Dasmariñas Village in Makati City were forcibly taken by the police after what looked like an altercation between the guards and the police officers.

In what was then known as the "Dasmariñas Village Gate Incident," the security guards were brought to the Makati police headquarters where they stayed for about four hours, allegedly for "clarification and custodial inquiry."

Pimentel said that it was a serious breach of the rights of the security guards to invite them for questioning without any warrant and that is under the Bill of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

He said there is a need for Congress to find out the extent of the pernicious practice among law enforcement agencies, and how to put an immediate stop to the constitutionally objectionable procedures used by police authorities.

At the same time, he said that it is also the duty of Congress to uphold the basic human rights of every Filipino and to ensure that no person shall be deprived of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

The incident became a hot national issue because it involved the party of the Makati mayor whose convoy of vehicles was not allowed to pass through a restricted gate of the posh subdivision in upscale Makati.

Pimentel was once a close supporter and partymate of the Binays, but bolted the Vice President's opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and joined the administration slate in the 2013 senatorial polls.

Pimentel objected to UNA's inclusion of his political rival, resigned Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, in its slate.

Pimentel filed an electoral protest against Zubiri for cheating in the 2007 polls. Zubiri was initially proclaimed senator but resigned only in 2011 amid mounting allegations of poll fraud.

Pimentel is not the first senator to weigh in on the so-called "Dasmagate incident." Last December, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said the Binays' behavior smacked of the "wang-wang" (abusive) mentality that the administration is against.

Cayetano said this is the preview of the "Binay administration."

The Senate Majority Leader also said the chief of police in Makati should be castigated by the Department of Interior and Local Government as he urged Secretary Manuel Roxas II to investigate the incident.

Cayetano denounced the move of Binay's camp for allegedly using long firearms and the Makati police for forcing the securities to proceed to the police station.

The Senate Majority Leader earlier made a strong pronouncement condeming the camp of Binay for allegedly using and abusing their power during the Dasmariñas incident. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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