Lawyer: Special jails for high-profile accused unfair, unconstitutional
MANILA, Philippines—The bill seeking to create separate detention facilities for lawmakers indicted in the multi-billion pork barrel scam will only reflect inequality between the rich and the poor, a lawyer said Wednesday.
“Why make distinctions on where to jail suspected criminals awaiting trial? Why distinguish between a senator who plundered the national coffers to finance his luxuries and a desperate beggar who steals a loaf of bread to quell his hunger? This bill is unconstitutional as it violates the equal protection clause and creates inequalities rather than eliminates them,” Atty. Argee Guevarra said.
Guevarra was reacting to the bill filed in Congress by Partylist Representatives Samuel D. Pagdilao, Rodel Batocabe and Christopher Co providing for the establishment of a high-profile crime detention center under the Bureau of Corrections.
He said that despite the assertion of the congressmen that their proposal does not display “double standard,” this would merely reflect the divide and inequality between the rich and the poor in our penal system.
Guevarra spent weeks in detention at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Camp Crame Detention Cell—the same detention facility being prepared and refurbished for the possible arrest and detention of Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada—for rebellion charges in connection with the Manila Peninsula siege in 2007.
“If they are sincere in wanting to upgrade and improve the detention facilities in the country, they should instead file a bill for such purpose and to pitch for the construction of more penal institutions rather than pull a fast one on the public who continue to clamor for the jailing of all those involved in the pork barrel scam,” he said.
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