MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima slammed her colleagues at the Senate for dragging her into the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law controversy.
In a dispatch on Thursday, September 12, De Lima said that Senator Richard Gordon, the Senate blue ribbon committee chair, had "steered away" from the issue involving ex-prison chiefs Nicanor Faeldon and Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa.
"Senator Gordon steered away the discussion from the violations of Senator Dela Rosa and Faeldon, and insinuated that the IRR (implementing rules and regulations) was written to achieve corrupt ends," De Lima said.
"The IRR reflected the letters of the law. Any problem they have as a result of the implementation of [Republic Act] No. 10592 lies with the law, not the IRR," De Lima said.
"I guess parliamentary courtesy, delicadeza, even basic human decency is out the window in the halls of the Senate," she added.
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 disqualifying criminal offenses from GCTA.
'Not an honest mistake'
While Gordon refused to pin the blame on De Lima, he insinuated that she had something to do with the "confusing" IRR when it was crafted.
It was during the time of De Lima as justice secretary and former interior secretary Mar Roxas that the law was crafted.
"Sino ang abogado? 'Di naman attorney si Secretary Roxas…I think di naman ganun si Mar na makikialam doon. Dapat lawyer ang nangunguna roon," Gordon told reporters on Thursday.
(Who is the lawyer? Secretary Roxas is not an attorney. I think Mar won't meddle in that. A lawyer should be the one leading it.)
Even Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that heinous crime convicts can still avail of the much lesser GCTA found in the Revised Penal Code.
Yet for Gordon, the IRR was made in such a confusing way to "earn money."
"I don't think it's an honest mistake. The facts speak for itself," the senator said.
Asked whether De Lima should be liable, Gordon mentioned negligence done in "bad faith," grave misconduct, and graft.
"She is already in deep trouble. 'Pag inilabas 'nyo pa ito, lalaki pa ang sunog. (If you bring this out, the fire will get even bigger)," he said.
The uniform manual published by the Department of Justice under Vitaliano Aguirre II also did not explicitly exclude heinous crimes. (READ: Gaps by both Aquino, Duterte administrations led to GCTA mess)
Because of that, lawmakers wanted heinous crime convicts to be excluded from benefitting from the law.
In a statement, Liberal Party president and Senator Francis Pangilinan said that De Lima is being used as a “scapegoat” in the latest GCTA hearing.
“Hindi si Senator De Lima ang nagtangkang pakawalan si Mayor [Antonio] Sanchez at ang nagpakalawa sa mga convicts sa kasong rape at murder ng Chiong sisters, paano napunta sa kanya ang pag-iimbestiga? Paano nalihis ang usapin mula kay Faeldon at napunta kay Senator de Lima?” Pangilinan asked.
(It’s not Senator De Lima who tried to release Mayor Antonio Sanchez and who ordered the release of the convicts of the rape and murder of the Chiong sisters. How did the probe go in her direction? How was the conversation steered away from Faeldon to Senator De Lima?)
Pangilinan also dismissed De Lima’s alleged links to corruption in the Bureau of Corrections under Faeldon.
“It goes against all sense of fair play to drag the name of the already incarcerated Senator Leila de Lima to muddle the scandal involving Bilibid officials caught ordering the release of rich convicted criminals, contrary to the law that is meant to give justice to poor, powerless detainees who should rightfully be released for good behavior,” Pangilinan said. – Rappler.com
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