House leaders urge probe of drugs at Bilibid during De Lima term | Inquirer News

House leaders urge probe of drugs at Bilibid during De Lima term

/ 05:05 PM August 22, 2016


House of Representatives. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Some congressional leaders are calling for an investigation into a reported proliferation of drug syndicates at the national penitentiary during Senator Leila De Lima’s term as justice secretary rather than look into the increasing number of extrajudicial killings since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

In a press briefing on Monday, Deputy Speaker and Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia said there is no need for Congress to investigate extrajudicial killings if it is in aid of legislation.


According to the Inquirer’s Kill List, over 680 have been killed in Duterte’s war on drugs.



“Maglagay tayo ng (Let us put a) fine distinction. 600 plus killings. But we are not here to investigate the mystery of these killings. We are not here to find out sino ang dapat managot (who should be held accountable),” Garcia said in a briefing by the majority coalition.

Garcia said there is already a law penalizing murder under the Revised Penal Code and thus there is no need for a probe in aid of legislation on the killings that would be used to craft another law punishing summary killings.

“What other legislation can we come up with? Is there a legislation to prevent extrajudicial killings? …To investigate extrajudicial killings, in so far as Congress is concerned, would be useless because there is already an existing law,” Garcia said.

READ: Alvarez won’t back probe into killings

Deputy speaker and AAMBIS-OWA Rep. Sharon Garin said it is not for Congress but the courts to investigate the slain suspected drug pushers during police operations or at the hands of vigilante groups.


“If anybody should be punished for extrajudicial killings, it’s for the courts to decide. It’s not to belittle what’s happening. Dapat korte ang magdecide niyan (The court should decide on that). It’s not within our powers,” Garin said.

For his part, Davao city Rep. Karlo Nograles, a known ally of Duterte, pushed for a congressional investigation in aid of legislation on the proliferation of drug syndicates at the National Bilibid Prison during De Lima’s term as justice secretary.

READ: Duterte House allies turn tables on De Lima, eye probe 

Nograles is among the co-authors of House Resolution 105 which pushed for investigation into the drug problem at the national penitentiary, where makeshift “shabu” laboratories were set up and drug lords lived in luxury, while De Lima was justice secretary.

Nograles said the probe would seek to look into De Lima’s “command responsibility” over the drug problem.

“Kung titingan natin mga (If we would look into the) occurrences, these abuses happened under her watch. So command responsibility ang titingnan natin diyan (So we would look into command responsibility). Therefore it is but proper that we allow her and her official family in the DOJ before to also air their side on the matter,” Nograles said.

Nograles said the House may also invite De Lima’s former driver Ronnie Dayan, who Duterte alleged was De Lima’s lover who collected drug payoffs for her from the Bilibid.

“For the sake of transparency and accountability, we will invite all those who are suspected of being involved in such illegal trade. If it involves the driver and bodyguard, Congress must send an invitation for him to air his side on the matter,” Nograles said.

Deputy speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu denied Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr.’s claim that the House probe would be used as a “political weapon” to discredit De Lima at a time when she is investigating  summary killings at the height of Duterte’s war on drugs.

Baguilat called the probe a “witch hunt” to single out De Lima, foregoing the role of Congress to craft laws.

“Obviously the proposed investigation, which singles out Senator de Lima, wants to discredit the ongoing investigation at the Senate on drug-related killings. It is outrageous that the leadership of the House of Representatives would allow this venerable institution to be used as a political weapon,” Baguilat said.

READ: Duterte slams De Lima, says lover collected drug payoffs for her De Lima mum on ex-driver’s alleged ties to drugs

Garcia said the proposed probe is justifiable because it seeks to create a legislation to weed out drugs from the national penitentiary.

“In this particular case, talagang justifiable na magkaroon ng investigation upang mailabas lahat ng anomalya sa sistema (it is justifiable to have an investigation to reveal all the anomalies in the system). Para naman malabas ang bagong law na magkapag-achieve ng aim natin (So to enact into law and achieve our aim) that we will have a corruption-free, drug free, Bilibid prison,” Garcia said.

Garin said De Lima has a choice whether or not she would attend as a resource speaker at the congressional probe called for by leaders of the House.

“The proliferation of criminal acts within the Bilibid was during the previous term. Who are the best resource speakers?… That includes the senator. If she’s willing to attend then that would be good for the committee,” Garin said.

The resolution for a House probe was authored by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and co-authored by Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, Rizal Rep. Michael John Duavit, Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles, minority leader Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, Iloilo City Rep. Jerry Treñas, Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon, and Valenzuela Rep. Eric Martinez. RAM/rga

READ: Alvarez calls for House probe on De Lima over drug problem 

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