By Rizal Obanil
Senator Francis Pangilinan believes that since detained Senator Leila de lima has been implicated in the controversy surrounding the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) law by some Senators, she should be allowed to attend the Senate hearing.
“Well ako, yun ang isa sa mga naging panawagan natin that she should be allowed to defend herself (That was one of my earlier requests..),” Pangilinan in an interview over ANC’s Headstart said.
The show’s host Karen Davila then asked how this could be made possible.
Pangilinan explained that the Senate should first take a position to allow de Lima to attend the hearing, which would be subject to the approval of the court.
Regarding the (implementing rules and regulations) IRR of the GCTA law, which some senators claimed de Lima crafted in such a way that there would be confusion in its implementation, Pangilinan echoed a fellow opposition senator’s stand on the issue.
He agreed with Senator Franklin Drilon’s earlier statement that there was no problem with the law, and that it need not be amended, because the problem only lies in its implementation.
“Ang sa akin kasi, may ruling ang Supreme Court di b a? Tapos yung law in itself sabi nila… medyo nagkaroon ng konting conflict. But sa akin in the end kung tama ang implementation, behind the spirit of the law I don’t think it would be a problem (As far as I’m concerned, the Supreme Court already made a ruling. While the law itself… they said that there was some conflict. But for me, in the end if it was implemented properly, behind the spirit of the law, I don’t think it would be a problem)” he said.
To point out where the supposed confusion lay, Davila said that, in a previous interview with Senator Ronald Dela Rosa, a former BuCor chief, Section 1 of GCTA was interpreted by BuCor as only applicable to detainees or those who had not been convicted of the crime they were charged with.
While Section 3, on the other hand, supposedly says that GCTA was applicable to all convicts “regardless of the crime”, Davila said.
To this, Pangilinan explained that aside from the law, there was an executive order from a former Justice secretary which clarifies this provision of the law.
“Meron ding executive order 935 signed by former Justice Secretary Caguioa that all these are subject to the review of the Secretary of Justice. Yun hindi rin sinunod yon. So in other words, the law and executive orders now currently applicable if implemented properly would have avoided this kind of situation,” he explained.
Contrary to what other people might think, Pangilinan said that he was not against any convict availing of the GCTA.
In fact, he believes that anyone, regardless of their crime, should have a chance to avail of it, provided however, that they qualify to be released.
“Lahat ng tao pwedeng magbago e. Dapat lahat ng tao bukas tayo na bigyan ng pangalawang pagkakataon, pero dapat deserving (Anyone can change. Everyone should be given a second chance, but they should be deserving of it.” the opposition Senator said.
In the case of government officials who have been involved in controversies though, Pangilinan has a slightly different take.
“Pag nagkasala, sampahan ng kaso, wag i-appoint ulit. If there is any lesson learned here is yung mga nagkaproblema na sa atin wag i-recycle dahil magkakalat na naman ng dagdag na lagim sa ibang ahensiya. Yun ang nangyari dito,” Senator Pangilinan said when asked to comment on former BuCor chief Nicanor Faeldon’s situation.
(If found to be of fault, file a case, don’t appoint him again. …those that have already caused a problem, don’t recycle them anymore. Otherwise, they would cause more problems in another agency. That’s what happened here.)
Faeldon was a former Bureau of Customs chief, who was reappointed to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) following a controversy on a huge shipment of drugs that slipped past the Customs bureau back then.
Eventually, Faeldon was reappointed to the BuCor then later sacked by President Rodrigo Duterte amid the controversy on the implementation of the GCTA.