Pangilinan: De Lima should be allowed to defend self over GCTA mess

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2019 10:04 AM

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MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila De Lima should have a chance to defend herself in connection with the release of heinous crime convicts due to the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, the implementing rules and regulations of which were drafted during her stint as justice secretary, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said Monday. 

The Senate "can take a position" on whether or not to allow De Lima to participate in the legislative inquiry into the issue with the approval of the court, Pangilinan told ANC. 

"She should be allowed to defend herself," he said.

The GCTA came under scrutiny following reports that it could set free Antonio Sanchez, a former mayor imprisoned for a highly followed rape-murder case in the 1990s. 

The Office of the Ombudsman last week asked De Lima and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to explain why the IRR did not specify the law's provision disqualifying recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes from benefiting from the law. 

Pangilinan said there would have been no problem if authorities correctly interpreted the "spirit of the law." 

"Even assuming that there are gaps in the law, common sense, paano mo papakawalan iyung good conduct time allowance kay Mayor Sanchez e ni hindi pa nga sinusunod ang utos ng batas na magbayad ng danyos," he said. 

(How will you allow good conduct time allowance for Mayor Sanchez when he has not even obeyed the court's order to pay damages to the families of his victims.) 

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this month fired Bureau of Corrections Director Nicanor Faeldon after he admitted that he recommended Sanchez's release. 

Before his BuCor stint, Faeldon headed the Bureau of Customs, which failed to intercept the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of shabu into the country during his tenure, noted Pangilinan. 

"If there is any lesson learned here, iyong mga nagkaproblema na dati, 'wag i-recycle dahil magkakalat na naman ng dagdag na lagim sa ibang ahensya (officials who had been problematic should not be recycled because they will only spread terror in other agencies)," he said.