Gordon: De Lima ousted as Justice chair to maintain objectivity

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines)Newly-installed chair of the Justice and Human Rights committee, Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon clarified on Tuesday the reason behind replacing Sen. Leila de Lima, saying the move was intended to protect the Senate "from all the shells and all the explosions going on all around."

"De Lima was not ousted because of (Edgar) Matobato. She was ousted because many of the people of the Senate felt that objectivity was being lost," Gordon told CNN Philippines.

He said "the atmosphere has been rocked with all kinds of accusations back and forth... And so we just wanted to make sure that we put it back in the center."

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Insofar as the witness Matobato, Gordon said he would still be included in the next hearing on extrajudicial killings — but he would have to testify on the matter stated in the resolution as approved by the Senate and filed by De Lima herself: the recent spate of extrajudicial killings (EJK) in relation to the Duterte administration's war on drugs.

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Motabato, during a hearing last Thursday, testified before senators about alleged summary executions of the Davao Death Squad (DDS) from 1988 to 2013 — a period not covered by the intended Senate probe on recent EJKs. He said he and the DDS had executed a thousand upon orders of then Mayor Rody Duterte and his son, Paolo.

Related: Duterte says Matobato lied in his testimony

Gordon added that in the next hearing, witnesses must have affidavits "for more cogent questions" and so that the discussion would not wander off elsewhere.

He added that the public can rest assured that he would remain fair as he said he had proven himself to be in the "Blue Ribbon committee of yesteryears."

"Let the ax fall where it may," he said.