Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday said they asked two witnesses in the drug cases against detained Senator Leila de Lima to testify because it was difficult to link high-ranking officials to the massive corruption at the Bureau of Corrections and denied any effort to pin her down.
READ: 27 BuCor execs sacked over GCTA racket
In an interview on radio dzBB, Lacson denied claims that last Thursday’s Senate hearing was aimed at shifting the blame on De Lima, who has been detained on drug charges for more than two years.
Lacson said touching on De Lima’s drug charges was “just incidental and inevitable.”
“Of course, incidentally, we can’t avoid not mentioning her name, but the focus and the purpose in inviting former BuCor OIC Rafael Ragos and NBI Intelligence agent Jovencito Ablen to the hearing was to determine the other rackets at the BuCor, particularly inside the New Bilibid Prison [NBP],” Lacson said.
Meanwhile, Senator Richard Gordon said he will also ask former Justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to appear before the Senate investigation on the sale of Good Conduct Time Allowance.
So far, Lacson said, they were able to learn from the testimonies of Yolly Camilon and her common-law husband, Gadfrey Gamboa, an inmate, about the sale of GCTA credits.
He said the corruption, however, was still at a low level.
The opposition Liberal Party challenged the Senate leadership to respect its own and give De Lima the chance to defend herself against imputations made against her.
As a senator, LP president Francis Pangilinan said, De Lima should be able to defend herself in the very institution to which she belongs.
“If sentenced criminals may be called to Congress to testify, surely a senator who has been detained without a shred of evidence can do the same,” he said.
“We strongly condemn all these attacks against Senator De Lima. Don’t divert the issue from the real lawbreakers. Give Senator Leila a fair fight,” he added.
Pangilinan also slammed the Duterte administration for implicating the detained senator in the BuCor corruption scandal.
“This administration is not content with insulting Senator Leila de Lima. Apart from being incarcerated on invented allegations, her name is being dragged to the incompetence and corruption of this regime’s henchmen,” the LP said in a statement.
“Perhaps all scandals involving this administration will be blamed on her to cover up the stench of their misdeeds,” it added.
Pangilinan noted that the ineptitude and malevolence of dismissed BuCor Director Nicanor Farldon at the BuCor and the BOC were clear, yet he is still praised like a sinless saint even after he’s been removed from office.
He said Ragos and Ablen who were charged together with De Lima, testified against her and are now under the witness protection program.
“Will they speak against the administration’s persecution of Senator Leila?” he asked.
He said the convicted criminals who testified against De Lima are living it up with their transfer to the Marine Barracks in Taguig and are benefiting from the fruits of their lies for the administration.
“The wrong and the lies are being encouraged while the helpless senator is being made to suffer,” the opposition leader said.
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