PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said that Malacañang is now in possession of a matrix that shows the alleged role of former Justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima in the so-called “Muntinlupa Connection” being run out of the New Bilibid Prison.
In an ambush interview at the Palace, the President said De Lima was the highest ranking public official in the matrix, which he intends to reveal to the public in a week.
“I will show to you maybe this week the matrix, I am just validating it. De Lima is there. The matrix shows her role there,” Duterte said.
He said that another former ranking Justice Department official and a governor are also in the matrix.
“When I go after the [names in the] matrix you will know. There is also a governor... He is my friend [and] I could not believe it. But he’s there, and so is an undersecretary,” he said.
Pressed if he was referring to former Justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan II, the President said “yes.”
De Lima on Tuesday remained silent on whether she would attend the House investigation of her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison.
The Senate committees on justice and human rights and public order, chaired by De Lima and Senator Panfilo Lacson, respectively, are investigating the circumstances surrounding the deaths of drug suspects during anti-drug police operations.
She also said she doubted if the House probe had a legitimate objective.
She noted that the House committee on human rights and justice had already conducted hearings on the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison under her watch.
De Lima was Justice secretary when the illegal drug trade reportedly flourished inside the Muntinlupa penitentiary.
She said the House investigation was conducted after the raid at the national penitentiary on Dec. 15, 2014.
“So the [House] committee on justice conducted also a series of hearings, two or three times inside New Bilibid. The members of the congressional committee also conducted an occular inspection. So they already knew the illegal drug activities inside Bilibid during the raid,” De Lima said.
“I initiated the raid. I started the raid, so why would they investigate me now?” she said.
Asked if she thinks the pending investigation was politically motivated, De Lima replied: “I would not know that.”
House leaders said they would try to locate De Lima’s former driver, Ronnie Palisoc Dayan, if Congress summons him to testify on the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the NBP.
President Duterte had earlier tagged Dayan as De Lima’s bagman for collecting money from drug lords operating inside the national penitentiary.
In separate interviews with the Manila Standard, House deputy speaker Raneo Abu of Batangas City, Robert Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte, and Reynaldo Umali of Mindoro Oriental said the House may seek help from concerned government agencies like the Philippine National Police and National Bureau of Investigation to ensure that Dayan would receive the subpoena from the House of Representatives and be compelled to attend the congressional probe.
Dayan reportedly has gone into hiding.
The lawmakers said Dayan’s testimony would be vital to shed light on reports that drug use at NBP was rampant under De Lima’s watch, and that a shabu laboratory had been build there in 2014.
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.