Pimentel to probe Binays' 'Dasmagate'
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III will investigate the Dasmariñas gate incident involving Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr for the supposed arbitrary arrests of village security guards.
Pimentel, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, announced that his panel will look into the incident, focusing on the practice of police forcibly taking persons to police stations for questioning in the guise of an “invitation.”
The senator said Makati police committed a “serious breach of the rights of the security guards” in inviting them for questioning.
“This unfortunate incident highlights the need for Congress as well as the leadership of our law enforcement agencies to review the standard operating procedure on effecting arrests, particularly warrantless arrests, by law enforcement agents,” Pimentel said in a statement on Wednesday, February 12.
The senator was referring to the incident last November 30, 2013 at the Dasmariñas Village where security guards barred a 4-car convoy of Mayor Binay from exiting through the Banyan gate, in accordance with village rules. Binay’s eldest sister, Senator Nancy Binay, was in one of the cars in the convoy.
Mayor Binay allegedly ordered the arrest of the security guards but Makati police said the guards were only brought to the police station for “ clarification and custodial questioning.” They stayed there for 4 hours.
The Binays drew flak over the incident, with netizens criticizing their supposed sense of entitlement and abuse of power. The family of Vice President Jejomar Binay though argued that the mayor deserved “courtesy” as local chief executive.
The Dasmariñas Village has since fired the Right Eight security agency, which sided with the Binays. The village though retained the guards who insisted on following the rule that the gate be used solely as an entrance to the village after 10 pm.
A former ally of the Binays, Pimentel said Congress should find out the extent of the “pernicious practice” of arbitrary arrests dubbed as “invitations,” and how to stop the “constitutionally objectionable procedures used by police authorities.
'Why single out Dasma incident?'
Senator Nancy Binay welcomed the investigation but questioned its timing, coming 3 months after the incident. She also asked why Pimentel zeroed in on the Dasmariñas case.
“It would also be good if we can also invite other instances where the police invited people for questioning, aside from supposed to be what happened in Dasmariñas because the [Senate] resolution said it’s a common practice. If it’s a common practice, why single out Dasmariñas?"
Senator Binay said the committee should also look into the process behind making the police blotter, following the mauling incident involving actor Vhong Navarro.
‘Violates Constitution, intl agreements’
In accusing Makati police of violating the guards’ rights, Pimentel cited the 1987 Constitution, the Revised Penal Code and international agreements.
“The 1987 Constitution ordains the protection and full guarantee of human rights while the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person,’” Pimentel said.
He added that the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights provides that no “one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrests or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as established by law.”
“It is also the duty of Congress to uphold the basic human rights of every Filipino and to ensure that no person shall be deprived of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law,” he added.
Pimentel was once a close supporter and partymate of the Binays, but bolted the Vice President’s opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and joined the administration slate in the 2013 senatorial polls. Pimentel objected to to UNA’s inclusion of his political rival, resigned Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, in its slate.
Pimentel filed an electoral protest against Zubiri for cheating in the 2007 polls. Zubiri was initially proclaimed senator but resigned only in 2011 amid mounting allegations regarding the poll fraud.
Pimentel is not the first senator to weigh in on the so-called “Dasmagate incident.” Last December, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said the Binays’ behavior smacked of the “wang-wang” (abusive) mentality that the administration is against.
Cayetano then said, “The issue is not because he is a Binay. The issue is because of the abuse, and my personal information is, this is not the first time this has happened.” – Rappler.com