House report on Bilibid drug trade out Monday
MANILA, Philippines – The House committee on justice is expected to discuss and approve on Monday, October 17, its final report on the alleged illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
The committee wrapped up last week the probe that focused on the alleged involvement of former Justice secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima in the illegal drugs trade, an accusation that came from President Rodrigo Duterte himself. (READ: Duterte: De Lima will surely go to jail)
But the committee report is expected to focus on proposing amendments to existing legislations rather than call for the prosecution of individuals, said Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali in a radio interview Sunday morning, October 16, over radio station dzBB.
"We are almost ready to submit our report to the committee tomorrow for deliberation and approval," committee chairman Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali said in an interview with dzBB's Rowena Salvacion.
"Sigurado na yung bukas.... (We are sure to submit it tomorrow)," Umali assured dzBB.
Umali said he also expects that plenary to approve the committee report this week before Congress goes into a short break.
"Hopefully within the week, we would also have the approval of the plenary of the committee report," Umali said.
Bilibid inmates testified to pin down De Lima, who in turn claimed they were "under pressure" to testify against her.
But Umali said the hearings were conducted "in aid of legislation" and will thus focus its report on recommending amendments to laws relations to the prison systems and illegal drugs trade.
Umali said the hearings were unable to dig deeper into who is culpable for the proliferation of drugs inside the prisons. He said it is "unfair to recommend" prosecutions.
Umali said the report will look into the reimposition of the death penalty "to raise the fear factor" for heinous crimes like illegal drugs trade.
"Should we or should we not push for it as part of the priority legislative agenda of this Congress. Sinabi ito ni Presidente (The President mentioned this). The revelations in this committee hearing made it more imperative to reimpose death penalty," said Umali.
Umali said they will also seek to review law on anti-wire tapping, bank secrecy, and modernization of the Bureau of Corrections among others.
De Lima believes she is being framed up to get back at her for leading the investigation of that exposed links between Duterte and the notorious "Davao Death Squad" that is blamed for the spate of killings in the president's home city when he was still mayor.
De Lima was chairman of the Commission on Human Rights before she became Justice secretary. (READ: Davao Death Squad: Whatever happened to the investigations?) – Rappler.com