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No attempt to exclude 7 senators, says Pangilinan chief of staff

The chief of staff of Sen. Francis Pangilinan on Friday issued a clarification regarding what seven majority senators regarded as an attempt to exclude them from the signing of a Senate resolution calling for an end to extrajudicial killings especially young people. File

MANILA, Philippines — There was no attempt to withhold a resolution urging the government to stop the string of drug-related killings, especially of young people, in the country from the seven lawmakers whose signatures were not on the document, according to the office of Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan.

Pangilinan is the author of Senate Resolution 516, a legislative document that has caused tension in the upper house. 

 According to Herminio Bagro III, a lawyer and Pangilinan's chief of staff, the rules of the chamber were followed in the circulation and filing of SR 516.

"Clearly there was no attempt to keep or withhold the resolution from the seven senators," Bagro said, adding that what was important was that the chamber was showing that it wants to find justice for victims of extrajudicial killings.

Bagro said that SR 516 already had 16 signatures on September 20, but the senator's office emailed copies of SR 516 to the official e-mail addresses of Sens. Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Cynthia Villar, Miguel Zubiri and Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III in an effort to gather more signatures.

"This was done to inform them about the resolution and to show the number of signatures, and to ask them if they want to sponsor it," Bagro said in a clarification sent to the media.

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The office of Gordon, who was in Vietnam at that time, acknowledged the receipt of the e-mail, according to Pangilinan's chief of staff.

"May we know if your respective principals will sign said Resolution? Should they approve, kindly inform our office so we can send you the original Resolution for signature," the e-mail from Pangilinan's office read.

Gordon: E-mails not enough

However, for Gordon, he should have been personally asked to affix his signature to a resolution that he would have supported anyway.

He added that it was not enough to send senators an e-mail and make an assumption that they were or were not going to sign the resolution.

"Out of courtesy, on a matter as plain as that, normally we would ask each other to sign," Gordon told Philstar.com in phone interview.

He said that it was the height of disrespect to release the resolution to the media and make it appear as though they did not want to sign.

The resolution was filed on September 25, three days after the e-mail was sent to the senators, Bagro said.

It was also read on the floor, stating the title of the resolution and the names of the 16 co-authors, according to him.

"It should be noted that no one manifested [a] desire to be a co-author of the measure," he said, adding that Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III referred the document to the committee of Sens. Panfilo Lacson and Risa Hontiveros.

Senators claim exclusion

On Wednesday, the five senators and Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III blasted what they labeled as an attempt to exclude them from the signing of SR 516.

They said that the legislative measure did not reach their respective offices and they were not given the chance to study and read its contents.

"We did not refuse to sign; we were not asked to sign," Villar said.

Gordon on Wednesday labeled the act as "perfidiousness and black propaganda."

"The perpetration of a resolution without giving ourselves a chance to look at it and sign it. That is a lie. To publish it is a lie," Gordon said.

In response to what they called was the act of being "left out by the authors of" SR 516, Zubiri authored SR 518 which condemned "in the strongest sense" extrajudicial killings and called for an inquiry into these cases.

Zubiri's resolution was signed by the 16 majority senators and did not contain any signature from the minority.

On August 21, the Senate majority signed a resolution condemning the death of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in a Caloocan police operation. The 17 members of the majority who signed called for hearings on the issue.

The resolution did not have the signatures of minority senators, who had been calling for a Senate probe the weekend before.

 

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