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House to probe drug use in Bilibid during De Lima’s time

Mara Cepeda

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House to probe drug use in Bilibid during De Lima’s time

Alex Nueva Espana

Some Duterte allies in the House want a congressional inquiry – in aid of legislation – into the drug use at the maximum security prison when Senator Leila de Lima was still justice secretary

MANILA, Philippines – The House allies of President Rodrigo Duterte have filed a resolution seeking an investigation into the proliferation of drug use at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when Senator Leila de Lima was justice secretary. 

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez led congressmen in filing House Resolution (HR) Number 105. The others are the following:

  • Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas, Ilocos Norte 1st District 
  • Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu, Batangas 2nd District
  • Michael John Duavit, Rizal 1st District
  • Romeo Acop, Antipolo 2nd District
  • Karlo Nograles, Davao City 1st District
  • Jerry Treñas, Iloilo City
  • Abraham Tolentino, Cavite 7th District
  • Paulino Salvador Leachon, Oriental Mindoro 1st District
  • Eric Martinez, Valenzuela 2nd District 

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, Quezon 3rd District representative, also signed the resolution.

Alvarez had earlier rejected a congressional probe into the spate of drug-related killings under the Duterte administration, and said he would rather have De Lima investigated for rampant drug use at the NBP when she headed the justice department. The President had made the same statement during the campaign.

The NBP, which is under the supervision of the Department of Justice (DOJ), is notorious for rampant drug use, violence, and corruption among the inmates and prison guards. (READ: DOJ under Duterte admin: Reform BuCor, New Bilibid Prison)

According to HR 105, government operations showed that the nation’s premier detention facility has become an “asylum for drug lords, gambling lords, and local ‘mafiosi,’ operating freely within the enclosed facility, imposing control on the inmates, and operating side by side with institutional workers and security personnel.”

HR 105 wants the House committee it would be referred to conduct a “comprehensive” investigation, “in aid of legislation,” on the NBP while it was still under the leadership of De Lima.  

During De Lima’s watch, the DOJ conducted over 30 inspections at the NBP under its surprise inspections initiative callled “Oplan Galugad.” De Lima chaired the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) before her stint as justice secretary. 

De Lima is now set to lead the Senate hearing on the spate of drug-related killings as Duterte wages a war on crime and illegal drugs. 

But she now is under public scrutiny after the President claimed that she had an illicit affair with her driver who is allegedly linked to illegal drugs – a personal attack by the Chief Executive that his own supporters have criticized.

An emotional De Lima said this will not stop the Senate investigation, but appealed to Duterte to spare her friends and family from his verbal attacks since they have done nothing wrong to him.

The President said, however, that De Lima only brought the scathing remarks on herself as “she created the scandal” when “she knows she’s a public official.”

CHR chairman Chito Gascon warned that Duterte’s recent remarks against de Lima may hurt the Senate probe. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.