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Gordon bars surprise witnesses at hearings

Sen. Richard J. Gordon warned fellow senators against bringing in surprise witnesses to testify on the Senate floor at the resumption of the Senate inquiry into extrajudicial killings yesterday.

“No witnesses shall be presented unless they have previously submitted affidavits to the committee chair. There shall be no surprise witnesses,” Gordon said, laying out the rules of the Senate.

Gordon, who replaced Sen. Leila M. de Lima as chairperson of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said that only under exceptional circumstances will the Senate allow it upon consideration of the rest of the members of the committee.

He made this reminder after De Lima was ousted as chairperson of the committee on Monday after neophyte Sen. Manny Pacquiao moved to declare the entire justice committee membership vacant.

The ouster of De Lima came a few days after she presented surprise witness Edgar Matobato, a self-confessed former member of the so-called Davao Death Squad, in the last hearing on extrajudicial killings. Despite being ousted as committee chair, De Lima was present in the hearing.

Gordon also reminded resource persons to provide position papers prior to the committee hearing. “All requests for documents should be provided beforehand so that we will just do the formality of marking them during the hearing,” Gordon noted, as a reminder to fully utilize time during the hearing. (PNA)