Unseen Hands and Political Manipulation in Senate Hearings

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Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri Cautions Against Manipulation of Senate Committee Hearings

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri has issued a warning to his fellow senators regarding the potential manipulation of Senate committee hearings for political reasons. This caution comes in light of recent events surrounding the Motu Proprio hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, led by Senator Ronald de la Rosa. The committee is investigating a leaked document from the Presidential Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

Jonathan Morales’ Allegations and Credibility

During the hearing, former PDEA agent Jonathan Morales claimed that confidential documents showed that then-Senator and now-President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and actress Maricel Soriano were being monitored for alleged drug use. However, both the President and Soriano have vehemently denied Morales’ claims.

Morales’ credibility was called into question during the inquiry when he admitted to planting evidence, resulting in his dismissal from the PDEA. Former PDEA Director General Arturo Cacdac further testified that Morales had confessed to falsifying his testimony and planting evidence during an operation against alleged Filipino Chinese drug suspects. Morales did not refute Cacdac’s statement.

Testimonies and Lack of Substantiating Evidence

During the hearing, PDEA Legal and Prosecution Service Acting Director Francis del Valle testified that the name “Bongbong Marcos alias Bonget” does not appear in the national drug information system or interagency drug information database. Del Valle also stated that Marcos has never been included in the drug war list. This testimony raises questions about the veracity of Morales’ claims.

Senate President Zubiri expressed his concerns about the serious accusations made during the inquiry. He emphasized that while the committees have the right to perform oversight functions in aid of legislation, they must be cautious not to use hearings for political persecution. Zubiri stressed the importance of presenting documentary evidence and corroborating testimonies to support the claims made during the hearings.

Zubiri also highlighted that the discussion of the President’s drug test, which seemed unrelated to the subject of the Motu Proprio investigation, was brought up during the hearing. This diversion from the main focus of the inquiry raised questions about the integrity of Morales’ allegations.

The Civil Service Commission Affirms Morales’ Dismissal

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has affirmed the PDEA’s decision to dismiss Morales. According to the CSC’s decision, Morales initially executed an affidavit stating that he and fellow PDEA agents conducted an entrapment operation in 2010, resulting in the arrest of two suspects on drug charges. However, after the suspects’ lawyers presented a witness in their defense, Morales recanted his testimony and admitted to fabricating the evidence. This led to the PDEA charging Morales with dishonesty, grave misconduct, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, ultimately resulting in his dismissal.

Morales appealed the CSC’s decision, but the commission found his appeal “unmeritorious.” This decision further raises doubts about Morales’ credibility and the validity of his allegations.

Importance of Evidence and Facts in Legislative Inquiries

Senate President Zubiri emphasized the importance of adhering to rules of evidence and facts in legislative inquiries. While these inquiries are generally more liberal in their approach to evidence, Zubiri stated that they should still aim to uncover the truth through concrete evidence and facts. He expressed concerns that statements made during inquiries, without proper substantiation, can cause reputational damage to individuals and diminish the public’s faith in the legislative process.

By cautioning his fellow senators against the manipulation of committee hearings for political reasons, Zubiri aims to ensure that the Senate remains a platform for objective and fair investigations. The focus should be on uncovering the truth rather than engaging in political persecution.

Source: The Manila Times

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