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Summon Noynoy first

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - July 11, 2016 - 12:00am

The problem with Leila de Lima is not that she is so pretentious. It is that she is so bad at pretending. The wave of killings that has characterized the government's iron-fisted crackdown on illegal drugs has ostensibly so alarmed de Lima that she now wants the Senate to investigate. In a country where congressional investigations have become a cottage industry, there is a high probability she will get what she wants.

That it is only a high probability and not a certainty is because the likely Senate committee that will handle such issues is the one on public order and security, and most Senate insiders expect that committee to be headed by Senator Panfilo Lacson, who is not exactly chummy with de Lima. But that is another story. If de Lima does get her investigation, things should get really interesting.

For example, de Lima may have been fired up to seek an investigation for reasons other than the mere need to find answers to questions surrounding the rash of killings involving illegal drug suspects. There is, for example, the not-so-secret animosity between her and President Duterte, who she caused to be investigated, also in connection with alleged summary killings in Davao City, while he was mayor there and she was the justice secretary.

Clearly this is a continuation of that story. It just so happens that now she has the perfect vehicle to launch part two of the story. While the first part had a localized setting, this time de Lima has the entire nation as her stage. The killings are happening during the presidency of her quarry. One of the known attack guards of then president Noynoy Aquino is now straining on her leash, ready to pounce.

But being on the subject of Aquino brings to mind one thing. And this is where things really begin to get interesting. In her excitement to get going against Duterte, de Lima appears to have forgotten one very crucial thing - the wave of killings that she wants investigated is not happening entirely under Duterte's watch. In fact the killings started during the last month of the Aquino presidency.

It may be argued that the killings could have been inspired by all the tough talk Duterte made during the campaign for the presidency, where he did say he would want illegal drug personalities killed. But when the killings did start, Duterte was not yet the president. He had not even taken his oath yet. It was Aquino who was president at the time.

The illegal drug suspects who got killed were usually killed in the hands of the police. Under what circumstances they were killed - that should be a matter to be included in de Lima's investigation. What is important that when the killings started, Duterte had absolutely nothing to do with the police. The person who had anything to do with the police at the time was no one else but the sitting president, Noynoy Aquino. He was at the time their commander-in-chief.

Even if Aquino was already rendered busy preparing to step down, he could not have feigned ignorance about what was happening because the killings were on the front pages of every newspaper when they happened, and led off every news lineup on radio and tv. If there is anyone who needs to be investigated and investigated first, it should be Aquino.

Aquino should be investigated on why he never lifted a finger to even inquire about the killings. It appears that he was all set and willing to hand over the presidency, warts and all, to Duterte. He apparently forgot that the Constitution is very specific about when his term ends - at high noon of the June 30 that follows a presidential election. If a killing happened at 11:59 a.m. of June 30, that statistic is counted under his column and not Duterte's.

So okay, if de Lima wants her investigation, by all means let her have it. But she should summon Noynoy Aquino first because he is answerable for all killings that began in the homestretch of his watch, killings he never bothered about. If de Lima does that, then her investigation is bound to be a credible one. If not, then it is just another sham akin to the relentless persecution of Aquino's enemies done in the guise of going after the criminal and the corrupt.

jerrytundag@yahoo.com.

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