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House panel backs death penalty

Concluding its congressional inquiry into the proliferation of drug syndicates and illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison, the House Committee on Justice yesterday reported that there is enough evidence and witnesses to point to the involvement of Senator Leila de Lima in the unlawful activities that took place during his term as justice secretary.

However, the House panel chaired by Mindoro Oriental Reynaldo Umali voted not to recommend the filing of any administrative or criminal charges against De Lima, much to the consternation of the minority bloc.

The committee, composed of at least 40 members, proposed the restoration of the death penalty for drug trafficking cases

The recommendations were based on the testimonies of at least 36 resource persons and witnesses, that included incumbent Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, and documentary evidence presented during the four day of public hearings called by the House panel.

Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said the House opposition will file a dissenting opinion proposing that De Lima should be charged in court for her alleged involvement in the drug trafficking operations at the NBP.

Representing the minority bloc during the voting on the committee report, Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin said the recommendation against De Lima and other former government officials implicated in the drug trade is “conspicuously absent.”

“Our point of object is on the identificaiton and definitive culpability of those involved in the proliferation of drugs in the NBP,” said Garbin. (Ben Rosario)