SHOULD Senator Leila De Lima be taken into custody over the drug-related charges against her, Senator Panfilo Lacson said she would be detained inside the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, where two other former senators charged in plunder cases are also confined.
Lacson made the comments in response to De Lima’s earlier request for a “safe and secure” detention facility should she be arrested for her alleged links in the proliferation of the illegal drug trade at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP).
“Ang irony noon, ‘di ba, kung secure na lugar ang hinahanap baka doon siya matabi (The irony is, if she’s looking for a secure place, she can be placed there). Assuming, ha? We’re not anticipating anything,” Lacson said on Tuesday, February 14.
Lacson was referring to former Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada who were both accused of misusing their Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) and were presently under detention inside the PNP Custodial Center.
Though there is no resolution yet, Lacson pointed out the “irony” that De Lima would be placed next to the two former senators.
“Remember meron pang bakanteng bungalow roon (Remember there’s a vacant bungalow there). I’m just thinking aloud na baka doon siya ilagay dahil secure ang lugar (She might be placed there). Yun naman ang hinihingi niya, ’di ba? (That’s what she is requesting, right?)” he said.
As justice secretary under the Aquino administration, De Lima filed complaints before the Office of the Ombudsman against government officials allegedly involved in the PDAF scam. Among the senators she filed complaints against were Revilla and Estrada.
“Parang paradox, ’di ba? Na siya (De Lima) ang parang primary, hindi naman naging kasangkapan for lack of a better word, reason kung bakit nakulong (sina Estrada at Revilla) kasi siya nag-start ng investigation di ba? Silang tatlo ng COA (Commission on Audit) at Ombudsman (Isn’t it like a paradox? That she was like the primary–not tool, for a lack of better word–reason why those two were imprisoned, because she started the investigation, right? She, COA, and the Ombudsman), ” Lacson said
Earlier on Tuesday, De Lima said she is prepared for the possible “imminent arrest” in relation to the drug cases charged against her.
She, however, expressed her fears that she might also become a victim of the “extrajudicial killings” once she is taken into custody.
“Sakali lang po mangyari na (Just in case), God forbid, sana ilagay naman ako sa isang lugar na safe and secure ako (I hope they would detain me in a safe and secure place). Kasi marami na hong nangyayari ‘di ba, pinapapatay sa loob ng selda (Because there were already events of people getting getting killed inside the jail), so what is another EJK?” De Lima said.
De Lima was presumably referring to the controversial death of former Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Jr., who was charged with the possession of drugs and unlicensed firearms cases.
Espinosa was killed in a “firefight” after allegedly resisting arrest at the Baybay, Leyte Sub-Provincial Jail last year.
Asked if the Senate could also provide custody for De Lima, Lacson replied: “Wala kaming facilities except siguro sa (We have no other facilities except maybe from the) Office of the Senate Sergeant at Arms. Depende sa consensus ng mga senador at kung papayagan ng judge, assuming ma-issue-han siya ng warrant (It depends on the consensus of the senators and if permitted by the judge, assuming a warrant is issued).”
Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon said that such decision is up to the court “because at that point, theoretically, she is under the custody of the court.”
Earlier this week, Drilon said that the Senate will not allow De Lima’s arrest inside the session hall.
“By tradition, we will oppose service of the warrant of arrest inside the session hall. The sanctity of the session hall must be respected,” Drilon told reporters.
Taking note that the Senate, however, cannot stop the arrest of De Lima outside the session hall, Drilon insisted: “That is a legal process and the general statement that I can make is that we will see to it the process is followed strictly in accordance with the rule of law.”
According to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, the resolution on the five cases filed against De Lima will be out this week.
De Lima is facing charges for allegedly violating the following: Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code or the disobedience for summons; Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act; Revised Penal Code, R.A. 3019 or Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; Presidential Decree 46 or Act Punishing the Receiving and Giving of Gifts of Public Officials and Employees; and R.A. 6713 or Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.