Robredo says GCTA hearing should focus on corrupt officials

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 15) — Vice President Leni Robredo called out lawmakers hearing the controversial good conduct time allowance (GCTA) law, saying they should keep their attention on corrupt officials and not other issues.

In her radio show Sunday, Robredo said Senators and other government officials should not confuse the public after being asked if she thought the discussion was being steered away from the real topics.

"Parang ang husay nga maglihis... Pero ito, okay naman na tanungin sila. Okay naman na tanungin sila kung bakit ba iyong IRR (implementing rules and regulations) hindi kasama sa mga exceptions iyong mga nag-commit ng heinous crimes. Pero hindi ito iyong isyu...ang isyu iyong korapsyon sa pag-a-avail ng GCTA. Ang dapat sanang tutok ng isyu: sino ba iyong mga corrupt na BuCor (Bureau of Corrections) personnel na nagiging instrumental sa pag-grant ng mga GCTA na dapat sana hindi pa naman iga-grant?" she said.

[Translation: It seems like they're really good at avoiding it... But it's okay to ask them. It's okay to ask them why in the IRR, there are no exceptions for those who've committed heinous crimes. But this isn't the issue...the issue is the corruption in availing the GCTA. The focus should be on who are the corrupt BuCor personnel who are instrumental in granting the GCTA to people who havenn't earned it.]

She added the issue of bribery to get hospital passes should also be investigated.

"Itong mga nangyayaring ito, dahil ba ito doon sa batas o dahil sa implementasyon ng batas? At saka ang tanong muna, doon ba sa implementasyon ng batas, ano iyong hindi — ano iyong pang-aabuso sa korapsyon na nangyayari? Kasi kapag nilihis mo iyong usapin na ang bine-blame mo na iyong gumawa ng batas, eh, iyong dating mga nangungurakot ay makakalusot na naman," said Robredo

[Translation: Is what's happening because of the law, or its implementation? And in the implementation of the law, what is the abuse of corruption that's happening? Because when you steer the conversation away and blame those who made the law, those who are corrupt will get away with it.]

Robredo said the exclusion of heinous crime convicts among those who are qualified for GCTA may not have been included, but this doesn't mean it is the main problem. It is just one of the many problems, she said

"Iyong sa akin, kung mali iyong IRR, eh, ‘di maggawa ng technical working group na i-amend iyong IRR kung ano ba iyong dapat gawin. Kailangan bang i-amend iyong batas? Eh, ‘di i-amend iyong batas. Pero huwag namang iwanan iyong usapin ng korapsyon kasi iyon talaga iyong pinaka-buod ng lahat ng ito," she said.

[Translation: For me, if the IRR is wrong, then the technical working group can amend the IRR. Does the law need to be amended? Then amend it. But do not leave your issue of corruption behind, for that is the very essence of it all.]

Recently, Senator Leila de Lima and Mar Roxas were asked by the Ombudsman to explain the rules they've laid out for the implementation of the GCTA law when they were in office.

Roxas was Interior secretary and de Lima secretary of Justice when it was passed.

In a statement, De Lima said she finds the Ombudman’s order “highly irregular.”

Meanwhile, Roxas asked in a Facebook post why they are being "singled out" when they did not write the law that expanded the GCTA policy. He also said the officials who approved the release of convicts, the members of the committee who approved their release, and people who give credit for good conduct should be investigated, too.

De Lima and Roxas are members of the Liberal Party (LP), of which Robredo is chairperson.

In a statement, former Quezon representative Lorenzo Tañada — LP vice president for external affairs — said de Lima should be allowed to defend herself.

"Mariin naming kinukundena ang lahat ng pag-atakeng ito kay Sen. De Lima. Huwag ilihis ang isyu sa mga tunay na may sala. Bigyan ng patas na laban si Sen. Leila!" he said.

[Translation: We strongly condemn all of the attacks against Sen. De Lima. Don't divert the issue from the real culprits. Give Sen. Leila a fair fight!"]