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MANILA, Philippines - The Senate has approved the motion of Majority Leader Vicente Sotto to conduct marathon hearings on the issuance of multiple certifications by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that resulted in the dropping of rape charges against a Panamanian diplomat.
âWe will have a marathon hearing on this,â Senator Loren Legarda assured Sotto after Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada referred the issue to the Senate committees on foreign relations and justice and human rights.
After Sotto delivered his privilege speech, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he supports the move to conduct an inquiry on the matter.
âWe better look into this. My God, raping a Filipina, even a diplomat, at least he must be held in court and answer accordingly, i support the move,â Enrile said during the interpellation.
Erick Baimals Shcks, 35, a official of Panamanian Maritime Authority, faced charges of raping a 19-year-old Filipina.
âOn April 25, DFA issued a certification with no mention of immunity, but the following day, the DFA issued another certification in favor of the subject Panamanian, saying that the Shcks was immune from arrest and prosecutions, and the following day, the DFA issued again a certification, thus saving the Panamanian from prosecution,â Sotto said in his privilege speech.
Sotto said that the certification was issued by the Director for Privileges and Immunities in the DFA.
âWithin days, DFA has issued three certifications. However, I agree with the DFA that they are handcuffed with treaties to honor, but we have to protect our women against these foreigners,â Sotto added.
âWho was this rapist diplomat? Is he an ambassador or chief of mission?â Enrile asked.
Sotto immediately referred his speech to appropriate Senate committees for the conduct of immediate inquiry on the matter in order to review DFA policy and standards on dealing with the diplomatic community in consonance with the Vienna Convention and other international laws.
âAre we so helpless or just so kind?" he added.
With this, Legarda and Senator Pia Cayetano also expressed support for Sotto's call for an investigation.