THE House plenary is eyeing the approval this week of the House Committee on Justice report recommending the restoration of the death penalty “to raise the level of fear among criminals” after probing the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP), and vowed to sustain the leadership’s position not to recommend the prosecution of Sen. Leila de Lima and others.
This Monday, Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, the chairman of the House Committee on Justice, said his panel will approve its report that he will sponsor and defend in plenary session for the approval of the 293-member House of Representatives before Congress goes on Halloween recess this week.
“And we’re almost ready to submit our report to the committee tomorrow (Monday) for deliberation and approval. Hopefully, within the week, before we close and go on a break, we would have gotten the approval also of the plenary on this committee report,” Umali told Rowena Salvacion’s Buena Manong Balita radio morning program over dzBB yesterday.
House Deputy Speaker and Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, one of the authors of House Resolution (HR) No. 105 calling for an investigation in aid of legislation into the proliferation of drug syndicates inside NBP, underscored the need for Congress to put an end to the level of corruption inside NBP “because its shows that the criminal justice system has been failing in reforming the inmates.”
“Congress should correct the failing criminal justice system. We should not allow underworld criminals to continue their nefarious activities inside prisons and let us help them on their reformation process by working on modernized and humane jail facilities in the country. It is high time to amend our Anti-Wiretapping Law and Bank Secrecy Law to deal with these drug and corruption problems,” said Abu in a text message.
Asked about the conclusion of the committee on the NBP drug trade, Umali hinted at the alleged proliferation of drug syndicates inside the national penitentiary during De Lima’s stint as secretary of the Department of Justice (DoJ) where Bilibid inmates testified that they raised funds for the alleged senatorial campaign of the lady senator.
“Narinig n’yo na naman lahat in national tv (television) ito. Lahat ng taumbayan nakita nila ang pangyayari, kung ano ‘yung sinabi ng witnesses, kung ano ‘yung sinabi ng resource persons. So palagay ko alam na ng taumbayan ‘yan,” said Umali who refused to give details pending the approval of the committee report before his panel after conducting four hearings in 47 hours where 22 witnesses, including nine resource persons from different institutions, were presented.
With alleged clear involvement of former NBP officials in the purported drug trade inside the NBP, Umali said his panel will recommend to Congress the reimposition of the death penalty which is being advocated by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte.
“Para sa akin, the revelations in this committee hearings made it more imperative for us to, at this point in time, reimpose death penalty. Bakit? Kasi yong four pillars of the criminal justice system are failing the people,” Umali pointed out.
“And alam mo, ang sa akin, ‘yong mga kriminal na meron ng life sentence, ano pang katatakutan nila? Except death. Wala na silang katatakutan except death. Kaya you have to raise the level of fear factor among these convicted felons na imbes na mag enjoy sila d’yan at magawa ‘yung pinaggagagawa nila ay hindi sila nare-reform because
‘yung correctional pillar ng criminal justice system is failing the government and the people,” Umali stressed.
In agreement with Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, Umali maintained that his committee will not recommend the prosecution of any individual, including De Lima, explaining the probe focused more on crafting a new legislation to avert the recurrence of the Bilibid drug trade in the future.
“Sumasang-ayon ako kay Speaker na dapat lang na tutal this is in aid of legislation eh we focus more on the legislation. After all, a case has already been filed. It will be unfair na magre-recommend kami na lalo’t higit na hindi namin napalalim ‘yong usapin sa sino ba ang dapat kasuhan,” said Umali, adding it should be Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II who should work on the filing of complaints against De Lima and others who may have been involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs during the senator’s stint as secretary of the DoJ.