HOUSE allies of President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday sought a probe into illegal drug activities in the national penitentiary in a resolution that zeroed in on Sen. Leila de Lima, who supervised the prison as Justice secretary under the Aquino administration.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte, Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas, Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles and House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez of Quezon, among others, filed House Resolution 105 seeking an investigation “in aid of legislation” on why drug syndicates were allowed to operate at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
“The House should direct the appropriate Committee to immediately conduct comprehensive investigation on the proliferation of drug syndicates in the NBP, including the involvement and accountability of the authorities mandated to exercise control and supervision over the national penitentiary, under the leadership of then Secretary of the Department of Justice Leila de Lima, and such other heads of law enforcement,” the resolution stated.
De Lima, a former human rights lawyer who is a leading critic of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, was linked to illegal drug syndicates and labeled an “immoral woman” by the President on Wednesday.
Duterte accused the lawmaker of having an affair with her driver-bodyguard, who allegedly collected campaign donations from drug syndicates.
De Lima on Thursday accused Duterte of misusing and abusing executive powers and sought a chance to defend herself, pointing out that the President is immune from suit.
Duterte, who had admitted to womanizing during the campaign, did not back down on Thursday and said the life of de Lima, as a public official, is an “open book.”
Resolution 105 noted that based on records of the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime, the number of drug-infested villages in the country rose to 8,629 in 2015 from 6,020 in 2012.
It mentioned the names of detainees Peter Co and Herbert Colangco, who were allowed to continue their illegal drug trade in air-conditioned cells equipped with internet connection.
The resolution, however, noted that the illegal drug trade at the national penitentiary was first exposed during a raid by authorities led by de Lima as Justice chief in December 2014.
“Makeshift shabu laboratories were discovered, as well as other illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia, high-powered firearms and improvised weapons, luxury watches and other smuggled items, golf carts, electric bikes, musical instruments, flat-screen televisions sets and other appliances, sex toys and other pornographic items, as well as a stripper bar and jacuzzi spread,” the resolution said.
House leaders however have yet to refer an earlier resolution seeking a probe on police killings of suspected drug peddlers. Resolution 61 was filed by an opposition lawmaker, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat.
Baguilat expressed fear that the probe on illegal drug syndicates at the NBP would be reduced to a political persecution of de Lima.
“The drug scourge in the Bilibid, as well as the current anti-drug campaign that has resulted in a high number of extra-judicial killings should be probed. Otherwise, we will not have a comprehensive evaluation of the entire criminality problem,” Baguilat told The Manila Times.
“This also reeks of political persecution, something that I hope our party mates and former allies in the super majority would not tolerate,” Baguilat added.
In a radio interview on Friday, whistleblower Sandra Cam bared that members of the Commission on Appointments, particularly Fariñas, ignored her when she first exposed de Lima’s affair in 2014.
Cam said she was “vindicated” by Duterte’s allegations.