CHR inquiry begins; majority of participants from government

Most of the participants here are from government, many of them police officers, the rest security personnel.

CHR chief Leila de Lima arrived at the Lantawan Room on the 9th floor of the Royal Mandaya Hotel at 9:03 a.m.

Earlier, members of Karapatan and Bayan Muna, including former Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador, had trouble getting in as police security at the main entrance on the ground floor checked their identities against the names on the guest list. Virador said Karapatan and Bayan Muna members – around ten of them – were allowed in only when Mayor Rodrigo Duterte arrived and intervened.

Toto Lozano, photojournalist of SunStar Davao told MindaNews he was blocked entry by a policeman after the latter saw him shaking the hand of the spokesperson of the militant groups.

Lozano said the policeman apparently mistook him for a member of Karapatan and blocked his way. He said he asserted his rights as a journalist. “How ironic that we’re talking human rights here,” Lozano told MindaNews.

The public hearing finally started at 9:40 with Mayor Rodrigo Duterte seated in front of the Presidential table. Lt. Gen. Raymundo Ferrer, chief of the Eastern Mindanao Command led participants from the Army. The regional police chief, city police chief,  station commanders, judges and prosecutors and other government officials also came.

Gabriela party-list Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan came much earlier than the rest. Ilagan said that while there are many criticisms against the public inquiry, “hopefully, if you look at it positively, this is the first step of chair de Lima. After this, I hope she will conduct a deeper probe.”

Conspicuously absent, among others, are Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla, Manuel  Quibod, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; Amado Picardal, the spokesperson of the Coalition Against Summary Execution; and Carlos Isagani Zarate of the Union of Peoples Lawyers in Mindanao. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)