De Lima hits Gordon insinuation that GCTA used to raise campaign funds

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima slammed fellow Senator Richard Gordon for "irresponsibly" saying that she used the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law to raise campaign funds during the 2016 elections.

"I take serious offense at Gordon's arrogance and impudence to even insinuate that I benefited from the Good Conduct Time Allowance Law without substantiating it with any corroborating testimonial or documentary evidence," De Lima said in a statement on Friday, September 13.

De Lima was reacting to Gordon's statements alleging that the detained senator did not exclude heinous crime convicts from benefitting from GCTA law to "earn money."

De Lima was the justice secretary when the implementing rules and regulations of the GCTA law were crafted. The IRR was implemented in April 2014.

Gordon chairs the Senate blue ribbon committee  investigating the anomalies in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP)  and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) because of the faulty implmentation of the GCTA law.

In one instance, Gordon, said: "Nung nagpasok ng GCTA nung 2013, nakakita siya ng magandag opportunity, dahil mangangampanya sila, na mas madaling mag raise ng pera kung daraanin sa GCTA." 

(When GCTA  was enforced in 2013, she saw a good opportunity, because they would start campaigning for the elections. An easy way to raise money was through the GCTA.) 

'Convenient scapegoat'

On Friday, De Lima pointed out that it was "wrong (for Gordon) to use her as a convenient scapegoat."

De Lima also took a swipe at Senator Francis Tolentino and Senator Panfilo Lacson for "practically testifying against her" with their line of questioning to the witnesses who tagged her in the money-making schemes at the BuCor. 

In an interview on DZMM, Lacson said on Friday that his questions were merely about the "trade inside" the NBP. He said that it's "only incidental" that De Lima was tagged in the Senate probe.

The GCTA law became the center of the controversy when rape-slay convict Antonio Sanchez was revealed to be among the 11,000 inmates granted early release due to good conduct. (READ: Gaps by both Aquino, Duterte administrations led to GCTA mess)

De Lima earlier told Rappler that heinous crimes should not be excluded as it would defeat the restorative justice philosophy behind the law. Instead, De Lima said there should be criminal offenses disqualified from GCTA.

In other interviews on Thursday, September 12, though, Gordon denied that he was pinning the blame on De Lima.

"No, no. Malinaw yung sinabi ko 'di ba? (What I said was clear, right?) It is just pure speculation, pure analysis of the events of time… I have no proof na kumuha siya ng pera (that she received money)," Gordon told reporters.

The uniform manual published by the Department of Justice under Vitaliano Aguirre II also did not explicitly excluded heinous crimes.

Because of that, lawmakers wanted heinous crime convicts to be excluded from benefitting from the law. – Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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