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Whatever for?

“But why even bother to get the detained senator… to come to the Senate to answer the accusations, when there is really no need for her personal appearance at the Senate hearing?

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

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With the ongoing hearings on the claimed abuses stemming from the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law that brought out in the open the corruption that reeks between convicted moneyed drug lords and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officials and officers, especially those who had earlier testified against the then Justice chief, now detained Sen. Leila de Lima on the money changing hands, the yellow and yellow-streaked senators have called on De Lima to be given the opportunity to answer the accusations linking her to the corruption that continues to exist in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Yellow senators and their former allies (whose numbers have been drastically reduced) had been practically demanding that their yellow colleague to first be allowed to attend the deliberations in the Senate and do her senatorial chores. Then later, when they lost the bid, they now call for the detained senator to be given the chance to answer the accusations linking her to the corruption in the NBP when she was Justice secretary.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who had authored a pro-Leila resolution for her to attend plenary debates along with Sen. Franklin Drilon, was quoted as saying that he believes De Lima should be given an opportunity to rebut the accusations against her in the same forum and that he hopes the committee can agree on the mechanics to make it happen.”

But why even bother to get the detained senator — who has been pointed to by her own appointee then acting BuCor chief Rafael Ragos and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agent Jovencio Ablen Jr. — both of whom testified against her in the legislative inquiries into her alleged involvement in drug trafficking in NBP — to come to the Senate to answer the accusations, when there is really no need for her personal appearance at the Senate hearing?

It will be recalled that before she was charged, arrested and detained and still a senator, House hearings were held where a number of Bilibid prisoners, as well as Ragos and Ablen, testified against her, detailing her involvement in the drug trafficking scheme.

Leila was invited by the House committee conducting the hearings to attend and give her side of the accusations. She refused and not only did she refuse, but worse, the senator, in a text, told her then lover, who served as one of her money collectors, not to attend the House hearings on the drug problem in Bilibid prison. That’s virtually an attempt at obstruction of justice.

De Lima was given the opportunity to give her side of the story and rebut the testimonies of the prisoners and those of her NBI agent and her BuCor chief then. She refused. So why should the Senate now bend over backwards to get her out of detention to attend Senate hearings and rebut the testimonies?

These senators can be as hypocritical as they come, when one compares the way they didn’t bother with the pleas coming from the accused opposition senators whom De Lima and her yellow partisan pal, then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, ensured their detention and junked their request to participate in the Senate’s plenary deliberations through teleconferencing.

These detained opposition senators were not even allowed to issue any statements to the media. Yet, in the case of De Lima, despite her claims that she has been denied radio, TV and other electronic devices such as a phone, she is able to daily issue statements distributed to and carried by the media, denying whatever is the issue of the day, and attacking her nemesis, President Duterte. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out how she gets the news instantly, to enable her to come up with her daily diatribe.

Why should Leila be treated with special care when these same senators failed to do the same for their colleagues then in detention?

These hypocritical senators now seek Leila’s attendance to give her side of the issue of money changing hands in the NBP, in exchange for unchecked drug dealing in prison, testimonies against Leila being on the drug take as well as the GCTA controversy that led to the release of convicts found guilty of heinous crimes.

Why should the detained senator’s presence in the Senate hearings be sought at all?

Even in courts of law, an accused need not be present during the court hearings after arraignment as long as the accused gives the lawyers representing him the power to continue defending their client.

There certainly are other ways for Leila to rebut the testimonies against her from former BuCor chiefs and personnel as well as the prisoners. Written statements, properly notarized can be issued by Leila by way of a rebuttal. However, what can be expected from De Lima will merely be yet another one of her broken records, where she would be claiming to be politically persecuted by Duterte, through false testimonies from all the prisoners and BuCor chiefs.

Such would be her expected rebuttal which is no rebuttal. Instead, it is a tired old song being brokenly and irritatingly sung by the infamous Leila, who, to this day, has not been able to convince the general public that she is as innocent as she claims to be.

She isn’t, and she knows it. And frankly, she deserves prison time!

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