By Hannah Torregoza
Senators on Monday expressed belief that Senator Leila de Lima should be given a chance to air her side on the supposed loopholes in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he supports the call of Sen. Panfilo Lacson to allow De Lima to explain her side as this would help shed light on the issue amid accusations she allowed the loopholes in the IRR to favor some inmates and to gain campaign funds.
De Lima is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center over allegations she was involved in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). She has repeatedly denied the allegations linking her to the anomalies in the NBP.
“Yes, certainly. She should be given the opportunity. I join the call of Sen. Lacson that she should be given the opportunity,” Drilon told reporters in an interview at the sidelines of a budget hearing.
Lacson, for his part, said he is in full agreement with the proposal and the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights will just have to work out the mechanics on how she can explain her side.
“Siya nag-request na kung puwede marinig siya (She requested that her side be heard). I am in full agreement. The committee will have to work out the mechanics on how to go about hearing the side of LDL (De Lima),” said Lacson, referring to Sen. Richard Gordon’s Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which is hearing the controversy on the GCTA law.
Lacson on Sunday said De Lima has the right to be heard and air her side on the issue.
“That is her right. How we would do it is something we will discuss. But on my part, if she wants to answer the allegations, she should be allowed to respond through teleconferencing, or the committee itself should visit her in Camp Crame if the authorities allow her to explain her side,” Lacson said in Filipino.
“But the exchanges of defense and accusations, that’s up to the courts,” the senator said.
Lacson said it is too early to tell if De Lima and former Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II intentionally made the IRR of the GCTA law confusing as it is.
“Too early to tell. As of now, we don’t see anything that shows it was intentional. If that is the intended purpose of crafting the IRR, as both of them drafted it, we don’t really know,” he said.
“I don’t believe Secretary Roxas has such kind of intention because I personally know the person. I know he won’t connive with other persons just to cover up any anomalies under former DOJ Secretary de Lima” he said.