MANILA — Two party list solons on Tuesday sought the support of their colleagues to pass a measure that will give way in building new detention cells for high profile personalities.
Ako Bicol party list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and ACT-CIS party list Rep. Samuel Pagdilao said it is high time to build separate cells for high profile respondents while their case is being tried by different courts of law.
“Respondents from the PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) scam should be given separate detention cells while awaiting the final verdict of the court,” Batocabe told reporters in a weekly forum, Ugnayan sa Batasan.
He was referring to Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla who were accused of pocketing millions of pesos from their Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and Janet Lim Napoles who is now detained at Fort Santo Domingo in Laguna.
“All other co-accused may be considered high profile respondents and can join the exclusive detention cells,” Batocabe explained.
Pagdilao, who is among the co-authors of the bill, said that the main reason why he supports House Bill 1360 penned by Batocabe and Christopher Co of Ako Bicol party list is to avoid any friction between common criminals and high profiles.
“They are still presumed innocent until proven guilty. Ikaw ba isasama mo ang gwapong si Senador Bong sa mga bilanggong maton? Baka ma rape yun,” Pagdilao explained.
He clarified that the high profile detention cell is just a separate cell like an ordinary cell with steel bars on it and no air conditioned and other amenities.
When asked by reporters how they described high profile suspects, Batocabe said in their bill that “high profile cases shall include cases which have attracted attention and publicity by reason of the relative position of the parties in society, cases imbued with public interest, or cases which involve national security and safety.”
They also describe detention prisoners as any person “accused for non-bailable offenses and are detained while awaiting investigation or trial.”
Safekeeping was defined as an “act of providing inmates with basic necessities, ensuring that the inmates are completely incapacitated from communicating with their outside networks.”
Batocabe added that high profile detention center should be maintained, secured, clean and adequately equipped for the custody and safekeeping of detainees.
Among the categories that an accused can be considered as high profile inmate must be slapped with non-bailable offenses except those accused under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; an incumbent or former public officials or appointees accused of non-bailable offenses or high profile case.