(UPDATED at 7:45 p.m., Sept. 16, PH time) Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has disclosed that a convicted drug dealer and nine others at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) will testify against Senator Leila de Lima when the House of Representatives opens its own inquiry into the controversy.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) will present Herbert Colangco, seven other “high-profile inmates”, and two who allegedly delivered drug money to de Lima inside prison, Aguirre was quoted as saying on radio on Friday, September 16.
Aguirre said Colangco and the seven inmates were transferred from the NBP to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) because of threats to their lives ahead of the House investigation on Monday, Sept. 19.
Aguirre said Colangco and the other witnesses were expected to detail how drugs were sold and how money was collected inside prison.
He said all the affidavits of witnesses would detail how de Lima herself and her alleged lover and driver Ronnie Dayan collected the drug money.
At the resumption of the Senate inquiry on the spate of extrajudicial killings linked to President Rodrigo Ďuterte’s anti-drug campaign on Thursday, Sept. 15, de Lima presented Edgar Matobato, an alleged member of the Davao Death Squad (DDS).
Matobato claimed that Duterte was the mastermind behind the killings in Davao City where he was mayor for 22 years.
He said that he got out of the DDS because his conscience was bothering him. He sought the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP) but left after Duterte was elected president in the May 9 elections as he feared for his lifè.
Aguirre branded Matobato a liar and said that de Lima’s presentation of the witness was meant to deflect the issue on her own involvement in illegal drugs.
“He was only presented because she was frightened. She knows our expose come the House investigation, why did illegal drugs proliferate in Bilibid?” Aguirre said.
Aguirre questioned anew the credibility of Matobato, saying he voluntarily left the WPP because “he found out that he would have no more protector at DOJ”.
Aguirre also chided some senators who were trying to protect him during the Senate inquiry.
“We can infer that from yesterday’s [Thursday’s] hearing at the Senate since you can see who among the senators favored him,” Aguirre said.
Duterte tagged Colangco as one of the “bosses” of the drug triad whose operations were based at the NBP. The others are Peter Lim and Peter Co.
Duterte has also linked five police generals and over 150 local government officials to the illegal drug trade and would be releasing the third and final instalment of his drug list naming 1,000 more government officials. He said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (Nica) had verified the list.
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