Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday criticized the proposal that the Senate investigate the killing of priests, saying it would be better if the police took care of the problem.
“I wonder what legislation can be taken up that is not already in the Revised Penal Code,” Sotto said.
“I would prefer that the law enforcers dealt with the problem.”
Sotto made his statement even as Senator Bam Aquino expressed concern over the death of Fr. Richmond Nilo and other priests, saying it underscored the growing culture of impunity and escalating violence in the country.
He said the killings took place in sacred places and in front of many people.
“If we are not scared and worried, I no longer know,” Aquino said as he visited Nilo’s wake in Nueva Ecija.
He said nobody was safe, and that there was violence even inside a church.
As a result, he said, he will file a resolution to investigate the peace-and-order situation in the country in light of the flagrant killing of religious leaders. Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday urged the Senate to look into the spate of killings and attempts on the lives of priests, including Marcelito Paez, Mark Ventura and Richmond Nilo in the last six months.
She said the killings came on the heels of the continued verbal attacks of President Rodrigo Duterte on the Catholic Church and its religious leaders, particularly in light of the Catholic Church’s criticism of the administration’s war on drugs.
But Sotto said the killings could be purely coincidental.
“There are 100-million Filipinos, and how many priests are there?” he said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said he was ready to hold an inquiry.
“But it has to wait until after the formal referral of her [Hontiveros’]resolution is made to the public order committee when the third regular session starts on July 23,” he said.
Duterte has denied persecuting priests, even as he again lashed out at the Catholic Church for the clergy’s alleged misdeeds and their liaisons with women.