SECTIONS
Monday, January 21, 2019

Seares: Battles in Senate, the House

CONTRASTS between the accusation against President Duterte in the Senate hearings and the shaming of Sen. Leila de Lima in the House hearings have begun to unravel.

But first, the similarities.

Both relate to past events in their lives: Duterte's, about his stint as Davao City mayor when the so-called Davao Death Squad executed drug suspects, robbers and snatchers in that city; de Lima's, about her term as justice secretary and her alleged corrupt practices that coddled drug lords jailed at the New Bilibid Prison.

Both stemmed from Duterte's war against illegal drugs: de Lima assailed violations of human rights in waging that war but dragged old charges against the president when he was mayor; Duterte struck back at de Lima's alleged immorality and corruption when she was still DOJ chief.

They differ in extent of power.

De Lima is a minority senator who couldn't even keep her seat as chairperson of the Senate committee on justice. Duterte controls both the Senate and the House. The anti-de Lima hearings continued while the anti-Duterte hearings were suspended.

DOJ, which oversees the Bureau of Prisons and the NBI, could influence witnesses through witness protection benefits and trade-offs on their jail term and treatment in prison. A surfeit of witnesses against de Lima; only one witness, a confessed assassin, against Duterte. And the sole witness isn't getting any protection, not even from the committee which has lost de Lima as head.

Unresolved

It's a lopsided battle, though played by their surrogates, in firepower and method. A senator is David to a president's Goliath but clearly the outcome is not biblical.

And how about the war on drugs and the relevant issue of extrajudicial killings? They're apparently sidetracked by the mortal combat between Duterte and de Lima.

(paseares@gmail.com)
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