This November 16, 2018 photo shows Sen. Leila De Lima being escorted by members of the Philippine National Police.
Leila De Lima/Release
De Lima to Ombudsman: DOJ can best answer questions on GCTA
Kristine Joy Patag ( - September 17, 2019 - 3:23pm

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Leila De Lima said that Office of the Ombudsman should direct its questions on the guidelines of the Good Conduct and Time Allowance law to the Department of Justice and not to her.

In a three-page reply to Ombudsman Samuel Martires, De Lima pointed out that she is no longer the Justice secretary and cannot reply "to a query that exclusively pertains to official business of the [DOJ]" in her capacity as senator.

“I therefore suggest that your good office require the explanation you are demanding from me from the office of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra,” De Lima said in a letter dated September 17.

De Lima, who is detained at the national police headquarters on drug charges, also said that "given my current situation," she does not have access to the Bureau of Corrections and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology officials who worked on the IRR nor the the records of their proceedings. 

Ombudsman asks De Lima to explain GCTA rules

Martires on September 6 told De Lima in the letter to explain “why the foregoing provision in the [Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 10592] does not contain the same disqualifications as enumerated in the last paragraph of Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Section 1 of RA 10592.”

The Ombudsman was referring to the provision that held recidivists, habitual delinquents, escapees and persons charged with heinous crimes ineligible for GCTA.

Former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas was also directed to explain.

RELATED: Mar Roxas: Don’t blame IRR on GCTA

But De Lima explained that the IRR in question was issued as “an institutional output of the Department of Justice together with the Department of [the] Interior and Local Government.”

De Lima stressed that it was not issued in her personal capacity or in her capacity now as a lawmaker. She also pointed out that she has no access to the members of the panel who drafted the IRR.

“Whatever query you may have regarding the IRR therefore may be properly and officially answered by the DOJ and the DILG, being the institutions and agencies responsible for the implementation of said IRR,” she added.

RELATED: Robredo: Focus on implementors of GCTA, not on implementing rules

Guevarra: DOJ has done its part

Guevarra, for his part, said that the DOJ under his leadership has already done its part. “The revised IRR reflects our best interpretation of RA 10592 as it was actually crafted, finalized and signed,” he told reporters.

On Monday, Guevarra and Año signed the revised IRR of the 2013 law.

The newly drafted IRR explicitly barred convicts of heinous crimes from benefitting from RA 10592.

READ: GCTA law's revised implementing rules exclude heinous crimes convicts as beneficiaries

The Justice secretary added: “We at the DOJ won’t dwell on things that had come to pass, much less waste our time on an unproductive blame game. “

De Lima: Am I a respondent?

De Lima also said that it is unclear to her whether the Ombudsman was asking here as a resource person or a respondent.

The Ombudsman has earlier announced that it is investigating the GTCA controversy. The office had ordered the preventive suspension of 27 officials of the Bureau of Corrections as it found initial evidence linking them to the “questionable” release of heinous crimes convicts.

The senator said that the three days given for her to reply to the Ombudsman’s letter is “not usually a discourtesy” for resource persons.

De Lima however stressed that if she was made to answer as a respondent in an administrative complaint, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction over her as a senator.

If she is being asked as part of a criminal investigation, De Lima said she has “decided to first wait for a subpoena.”

“In the absence of my person in whatever proceeding your office is conducting on the matter is still premature,” she added.

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