By Wilnard Bacelonia

SENATE HEARING. Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa chair the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs’ inquiry into the killing of Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo in this undated photo. Dela Rosa on Thursday (April 27, 2023) said he plans to hold one more hearing to cover the remaining issues involving security personnel, particularly at the local level. (Photo by Senate PRIB)

MANILA – Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa on Thursday said at least five possible legislative measures and four policy reforms should be made based on the last three Senate inquiries into the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo.

Dela Rosa, chairman of the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, suggested an amendment to the Omnibus Election Code, particularly Section 69 which defines nuisance candidates.

He said an amendment to the Local Government Code might also be needed to ensure that the authority to appoint police provincial directors must be with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and not with the local government officials.

Dela Rosa said the Firearms Law was likewise seen as having the need for revision.

“As always, we emphasize that this is in aid of legislation. Paano ba makakatulong ang Senado? Anong mga polisiya ang kailangang gawin at anong batas ang kailangan nating amyendahan (How can the Senate help? What policies are needed to be done and what laws are needed to be amended)?” he said.

A strong law that would effectively prevent the organization of private armies and the imposition of the death penalty against security personnel who commit heinous crimes should also be passed, he said.

He also called for the strict implementation of existing policies in selling and using of military and police uniforms, monitoring of dishonorably discharged military personnel, inventory of loose firearms and updating of the PNP Standard of Procedures in addressing complaints of the citizens.

Dela Rosa said his panel plans to hold one more hearing to cover the past and present law and order situations in Negros Oriental.

This, after the first three hearings unearthed more killing incidents, land grabbing cases, e-sabong and illegal gambling, intimidation and threat to “uncooperative” authorities, the existence of private armies with unlicensed firearms, and involvement of police personnel in criminal activities and cover-ups.

During the third hearing, Dela Rosa was emotional while expressing his disappointment over the alleged involvement of a number of police personnel in what some described as a “breakdown” of the criminal justice system in Negros Oriental.

“Baka akala ninyo masaya ako sa aking kinarororoonan ngayon, na ako ang nag-iimbestiga sa inyo (You might think that I am happy being here investigating you),” the former PNP chief said.

“Bugbog na bugbog na ‘yung ating organization, ‘yung ating institution. Maawa naman kayo (This is so much for our organization, our institution. Have mercy),” he said while holding back his tears.

Dela Rosa’s panel has yet to schedule for the next hearing to continue the probe.

The committee launched the series of inquiries in response to the Senate Resolution No. 518 filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros calling for inquiry not only into the Degamo killing, but also on the series of political killings happening in the country. (PNA)