Gordon new Senate Committee on Justice chairman

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Senator Dick Gordon on Monday was elected new chairman of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

He replaced Sen. Leila De Lima, who chaired the hearings for extrajudicial killings.

Sixteen senators voted to remove Leila De Lima as the justice chair, as well as declare the rest of the committee posts vacant. Four senators opposed the motion, while two abstained — including De Lima who walked out halfway through proceedings.

"I do so without any lobbying on my part to chair this committee," Gordon said, after thanking those who voted for him.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao was the one who moved to declare the committee on justice vacant. De Lima was not present when Pacquiao declared the motion.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Pacquiao said the justice committee chaired by De Lima failed to follow certain procedures in conducting a Senate probe.

"Ang isang committee ay nagiimbestiga at hindi ginagamit para i-pin down ang presidente," Pacquiao said. "Hindi po ito ginagamit para sirain ang isang tao.

[Translation: A committee investigates and shouldn't be used to pin down the president. It shouldn't be used to destroy someone.]

This is a blow to critics of the government's war on drugs. Former Justice Secretary De Lima was one of the President's fiercest critics.

Last week, she brought in witness Edgar Matobato, who testified that Duterte, his family and his allies have ordered the murder of suspected drug pushers, petty criminals, and even personal enemies for years.

Though Duterte has openly called for the death of drug suspects, and the Davao death squad has long been a rumored fixture in the Mindanao city, Matobato was the first to give a personal testimony into how the killings allegedly worked.

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