Senators seek De Lima's side on GCTA mess

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2019 03:56 PM

MANILA - At least three colleagues of detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday said she should be given the opportunity to explain her side on the good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law that allowed the early release of convicts.

Among them were Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Francis Pangilinan. Drilon and Lacson earlier filed a resolution seeking to allow De Lima to participate in the chamber's plenary sessions through teleconferencing.

“Siya nagre-request na kung pwede marinig din siya (She requested if we could hear her out). I am in full agreement. The committee will have to work out the mechanics how to go about hearing the side of Sen. Leila de Lima,” Lacson told reporters.

“Certainly. She should be given the opportunity. I join the call of Sen. Lacson that she should be given the opportunity,” Drilon said in a separate interview.

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

The Senate is investigating the implementation of the GCTA policy, which has led to the release of some 2,000 heinous crime convicts.

Drilon said there is a need to overhaul the Bureau of Corrections.

“I would favor that we return the power of control and supervision of the Secretary of Justice over the BuCor,” he said.

Although the Senate justice and human rights committee, chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, has yet to release its partial report on the matter, Drilon said he firmly believes that sacked BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon should face charges.
 
“For incompetence and neglect, I think Faeldon is responsible. But for the law itself, there is doubt thrown on the coverage or inclusion of the life-termers in the GCTA Law," he said.

Lacson said the axe may fall on other BuCor officials as well.

“Not only DG (Director General) Faeldon pero ang ibang dapat mahagip, sino man ang i-recommend for criminal liability. We need solid evidence to even consider recommending filing criminal charges against them,” he said.

Detained BuCor officials will only be released once they tell the truth, Lacson added. 

--Report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News