Senators scold Sinas for initially snubbing hearing on series of killings
Screen grab shows Gen. Debold Sinas, national police chief, attending a Senate joint committee hearing via teleconference on January 28,2021.
Screen grab/Senate of the Philippines YouTube page

Senators scold Sinas for initially snubbing hearing on series of killings

Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - January 28, 2021 - 12:40pm

MANILA, Philippines — National police chief Debold Sinas, who initially intended to skip the Senate's probe on a series of killings in the country, on Thursday decided to attend the hearing after being chastised by senators.

Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, bristled at Sinas' absence, becoming further irritated after learning that the top cop offered "not even a reply" to the upper chamber's invitation.

Police Maj. Gen. Marni Marcos, who serves as the chief of the PNP's Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management, told senators that Sinas could not be present because he "is attending other activities."

"You know, the Senate is the forum of the people. When we invite, that should be taken seriously," Gordon said. By sending someone else in his place, and offering no other response, the senator said Sinas "is making a representation that he is too busy for the Republic of the Philippines."

Sen. Bato dela Rosa, a former PNP chief, shared in Gordon's frustration and said at least a three-star general—Marcos has two stars—should represent Sinas if he is not available.

Dela Rosa also incorrectly claimed that he was never absent for Senate hearings when he was the top cop. In 2017, he skipped a Senate hearing on the kidnapping and killing of a Korean businessman to attend the wake of four police officers.

Close to two hours into the hearing, Sinas finally registered his presence. "I'm very sorry that I was not able to join right away," he said partially in Filipino.

Why were senators looking for high-ranking PNP officials?

In December, more than half the Senate called for an investigation into the spate of killings in the country.

In Senate Resolution No. 599, Sens. Gordon, Risa Hontiveros, Ralph Recto, Franklin Drilon, Kiko Pangilinan, Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima, and Joel Villanueva, noting the "increasing brazenness and daring" of vigilantes, said "authorities have lost control of the country's peace and order."

By failing to hold vigilantes accountable, senators said authorities caused "more families to lose their loved ones to lawless and unnecessary grief."

As he presided over the hearing, Sen. Richard Gordon said his office found that 20 people have already been killed in January alone, including a teacher, a priest, a government employee, a lawyer, a politician, three cops, and twelve other civilians.

"This is happening in broad daylight, some inside the sanctity of their home, or just steps away from their home," he said.

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