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Bato assures Teves: Senate hearing on Degamo case won't be a 'kangaroo court'

Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa on Monday assured the camp of suspended Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo "Arnie" Teves Jr. that the Senate public order and dangerous drugs investigation into the killing of Negros Oriental Governor Roel Degamo won't turn into a "kangaroo court."

"The fact na imibitahan natin sila, gusto natin marinig yung side nila. Grabe naman 'yung kangaroo court. Hindi naman tayo NPA na gagamit ng kangaroo court... I-handle natin itong hearing na hindi lalabas ng kangaroo court," Dela Rosa, chairman of the Senate panel, said in an online interview.

(The fact that we invited them means that we want to hear their side. We will handle this hearing without appearing that we are a kangaroo court.)

Teves' legal counsel, Ferdinand Topacio, earlier called the preliminary investigation on the Degamo case a "kangaroo court" — a term which was defined by Cornell Law School as "an authorized court or legal proceeding in which fair proceedings are impossible due, for example, to a partial judge or excessive press coverage."

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla last week said Teves appears to be the main mastermind in the killing of Degamo. Teves has denied this and appealed for fairness.

Should Teves' himself decide not to avail of the Senate hearing as an avenue to air his side, Dela Rosa said he cannot be represented by his legal counsel before the investigation.

"I dont think so. Hindi naman imbitado ang lawyer. Ang imbitahan ang mga concerned...Kung ayaw niya i-avail ito, meron naman tayong inter-parliamentary courtesy," he said.

(The lawyer is not invited. Only the concerned individuals are invited. If he doesn't want to attend, will still have inter-parliamentary courtesy.)

Dela Rosa also made an assurance that the Senate investigation will not be used for political agenda.

"Naging retired na pulis tayo, alam natin paano mag-imbestiga, paano tayo hindi magpapagamit, at paano tayo iiwas na hindi magamit," Dela Rosa said.

(I am a retired policeman. I know how to investigate, I know how not to be used for political agenda, and how to prevent them from using this hearing as their avenue.)

"But then again, since this is a public hearing, pagbigyan lahat ng gustong mag-testify na i-accommodate natin sila [we will accommodate all those who want to testify]," he added.

Apart from the Degamo case, Dela Rosa expressed hope that the Senate investigation will give "closure" to other political killings as several witnesses are set to appear in the hearing next week. 

In March, Senator Risa Hontiveros filed a resolution seeking a Senate investigation into the recent spate of attacks against local government officials, including that of Degamo. —KBK, GMA Integrated News