After probe on Bilibid drug trade, House won't recommend charges vs. De Lima

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — House Committee on Justice Chairman Reynaldo Umali on Monday said the committee is not recommending the prosecution of Senator Leila de Lima.

This after the House of Representatives let high-profile inmates in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) testify against De Lima.

During the House probe on the alleged illegal drug trade in the national penitentiary, inmates-turned-witnesses said they gave drug money to fund the campaign expenses of then Justice Secretary De Lima.

Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun, in a committee meeting, asked Umali: "The prosecution of Senator Se Lima will not be one of the recommendations of the committee, do you confirm that Mr. Chairman?

To which Umali, De Lima's fraternity brother in Law school, replied: "That is not our job. Prosecution is an executive function, not a congressional function."

Also read: Ombudsman will not probe De Lima's alleged links to drug trade

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier asked the committee to refrain from recommending prosecution against anyone, and just focus on the legislation to address the problem of the drug trade inside the Bilibid.

Umali pointed out that the committee report contains findings established during the four-day hearing - this includes the involvement of de Lima in the drug trade.

21-page committee report

The House justice committee held, and eventually suspended an executive session to discuss the 21-page draft committee report on the four-day house probe.

Lawmakers said they are discussing the document page by page.

The 21-page committee report has not been made public. But some lawmakers say one contentious point is the absence of a recommendation to file charges against Senator Leila de Lima.

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said the opposition bloc will not sign the report without it.

But Cibac Party-list Representative Sherwin Tugna believes a recommendation is unnecessary.  He pointed out that the committee report is clear on who should be held liable, and the Justice Department can use the findings for its investigation.

Tugna added, the report cites the need for the reimposition of the death penalty for illegal drug cases.

Also read: Ex-NBI officials tag former Justice Secretary as 'Mother of all Drug Lords'