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House panel won't invite Rodrigo Duterte to EJK probe

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives' human rights committee has opted not to summon former President Rodrigo Duterte to its upcoming investigation on the extrajudicial killings that happened during the "war on drugs" that he initiated.

Committee chairperson Rep. Benny Abante (Manila, 6th district) said that Duterte and former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa will be excluded from the House inquiry out of courtesy, while Dela Rosa's successor, Oscar Albayalde, will be asked to attend.

"I don’t even think that if we invite (Duterte and Dela Rosa) that they will be able to attend. But we will invite those who were really there," Abante said.

Similarly, Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong (Lanao del Sur, 1st District) said the committee is exercising the principle of parliamentary courtesy by not inviting Dela Rosa — Duterte's first police chief to implement his "war on drugs" from 2016-2018.

Former Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra and other members of Duterte's Cabinet may be asked to appear before the committee, Abante said.

The House human rights panel has set its first formal hearing into Duterte's drug war on May 22, which Abante said aims to "listen to all sides to find out the truth" and "not to pass judgment." 

"They are alleged drug users and dealers. They were not convicted because these alleged [extra-judicial killing] victims were silenced. They were denied their rights," Abante said. 

"Now, it is our responsibility to the victims of alleged extrajudicial killings and their families to seek the truth," the lawmaker said, adding that he will ensure that the probe is conducted in an impartial and fair manner.

Abante said that the panel is considering inviting select victims of extra-judicial killings, particularly parents of minors.

The committee has also been briefed by individuals and organizations on data related to the extra-judicial killings that occurred under Duterte's so-called "war on drugs," as well as legal issues in its implementation, Abante said.

"The volume of information is considerable," the lawmaker added.

Cracks in the Duterte-Marcos alliance have been deepening since the start of 2023 but became increasingly