Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez says they will invite everyone who may have something to do with the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison
MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said the pending House investigation on drug use and trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) is not a personal attack against Senator Leila de Lima.
“Ay hindi, hindi. Hindi personal ito. Bakit naman natin siya pepersonalin? Kung titignan ninyo nang mabuti ‘yung aking finile na resolution ay hindi naman siya binabanggit. Ang resolution ay malinaw na ang iniimbestigahan natin dito ay ‘yung paglaganap ng droga sa New Bilibid Prison sa ilalim ng kanyang pangangasiwa,” Alvarez told reporters on Thursday, August 25.
(No. This is not personal. Why would we resort to personal attacks? If you look closely at the resolution I filed, she was not mentioned. The resolution clearly states that what we are going to investigate is the widespread use of drugs at the New Bilibid Prison under her supervision.)
The Speaker led several lawmakers in filing House Resolution Number (HR) 105.
HR 105 wants the probe to focus on a "comprehensive" investigation, "in aid of legislation," on the NBP while it was still under the leadership of De Lima in her capacity as justice secretary under the Aquino administration.
The national penitentiary, which is under the DOJ's supervision, is notorious for rampant drug use, violence, and corruption among the inmates and prison guards. (READ: DOJ under Duterte admin: Reform BuCor, New Bilibid Prison)
Under De Lima, the DOJ conducted over 30 inspections at the NBP in surprise raids called “Oplan Galugad.”
President Rodrigo Duterte recently said, however, that De Lima "facilitated" some illegal activities in the prison but did not herself trade drugs.
De Lima slammed this as baseless and said the drug matrix "belongs to the garbage can."
Alvarez said they cannot compel De Lima to attend the probe because of the longstanding tradition of inter-parliamentary courtesy between both Houses of Congress. Still, they encouraged the ex-DOJ secretary to come as a resource person.
De Lima is not keen on going. (READ: De Lima: I exposed drug use in Bilibid, why probe me?)
According to Alvarez, they plan to invite all people they think would help congressmen paint a complete picture of the drug use inside the NBP.
“Lahat po ng merong kaalaman doon sa ginagawa nating imbestigasyon ay talagang iimbitahin natin para makatulong doon sa pagbuo ng katotohanan (Everyone who has something to do with the investigation will be invited so we can get the truth),” said Alvarez.
He earlier rejected the ongoing Senate investigation on the spate of drug-related killings under the Duterte administration.
He said he would rather have De Lima investigated for rampant drug use at the NBP when she headed the justice department.