Sotto, Hontiveros press Senate probe vs prisons ‘drug racket’

In this July 27, 2020, file photo, senators wear masks as they pose during the opening of the 2nd regular session of the 18th Congress in Quezon City.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Risa Hontiveros pressed for a deeper inquiry into a lucrative illegal “drug racket” using inmates said to be run by errant members of the Philippine National Police (PNP).

An apparently disappointed Sotto bewailed that since 1998, he and the Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs have long been pushing for reforms.

“We want to hear from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency [PDEA] and the National Bureau of Investigation [NBI],” Sotto said, adding “it hurts to hear casualties in the PNP.”

Senator Ronald de la Rosa, chairman of the investigating Committee on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, however, opted to defer the Senate probe until “after the NBI completes its probe.”

A former National Police Chief before his election to the Senate, de la Rosa prodded the PNP to “continue the fight and do not give up.”

He indicated that summons are already being prepared for officials of PDEA and NBI.

This developed as Senate probers briefly opened Monday an initial but short inquiry into the recent “misencounter” between the Quezon City Police Special Operations Unit and members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Authority (PDEA).

De la Rosa, the presiding chairman, cut short the scheduled hearing, saying they suspended the panel’s inquiry to give way to an ongoing NBI probe on the same case, involving “drug lord” detainees running illegal drug deals even while under detention.

Image credits: Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB via AP


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