2 senior House officials vow to block measures establishing high profile detention centers

By , on June 19, 2014

Photo by Robert Viñas / PCOO
Photo by Robert Viñas / PCOO

MANILA — Two senior leaders of the House of Representatives on Wednesday said they will block the bill being pushed by two party list solons which will establish high profile detention centers in the country.

Dasmarinas Rep. Elpidio Barzaga described the measure filed by Ako Bicol party list Reps. Rodel Batocabe and Christopher Kho as “discriminatory” claiming that it violates equal protection clause in the 1987 Constitution.

Barzaga insists that the measure will only send wrong signal to the public that there is nothing wrong for any public official to engage in criminal acts with heavy penalties because they will be separated from ordinary criminals.

“Where ever you look at it, the public will think that we are exercising double standard in our justice system,” Barzaga, a certified public accountant/lawyer said in a text message to House reporters.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Farinas, vice chairman of the House committee on Justice, said that the measure cannot be considered as a general policy that you will imprison persons committing high profile crimes in a special detention center for they know that the offense they committed is non-bailable.

“It is open to abuse. The law is created not to a particular individual or group of individuals who committed serious crimes but it was designed to all and equal whoever you are and whatever is your stand in the society,” Farinas pointed out.

He said it can be a “case to case basis” but not open to all like the case of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in respect to her as a former chief executive.

Another personality which can be given the same accommodation is former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile not because of his former position but because of his age. Enrile is 90 years old.

The alleged pork barrel queen, Janet Lim-Napoles who is being accused of pocketing P10 billion from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) is presently detained in Fort Sto. Domingo in Laguna.

Batocabe said in a recent news forum that their measure only aims to protect accused who are considered high profile respondents while their case is being tried by Sandiganbayan.

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 House Bill 1360 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.”