SENATOR Leila de Lima personally received at least P5 million in drug profits in every visit of a high-ranking official when she was still Justice secretary of the Aquino administration, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said Saturday.
Aguirre said they will be presenting two witnesses at the congressional inquiry next week to prove that De Lima supposedly condoned drug transactions at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.
Aguirre also debunked claims by Senator Franklin Drilon, who claimed that the Senate has the power to place witnesses under its own protective custody, saying that the Senate has no power to protect witnesses.
“[The money] was personally received by Secretary De Lima and when it was delivered in the morning, she was wearing a duster and Ronnie Dayan was there,” Aguirre said in an interview over radio station dzMM.
Aguirre refused to identify the two witnesses but hinted “they’re not inmates. They’re from outside. One is a high-ranking government official,” he said.
“They will reveal Secretary De Lima’s role in the drug trade when she was DOJ secretary,” he said.
President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier revealed a matrix of the drug network that included De Lima and her former driver Ronnie Dayan who allegedly colluded to protect each other in the illegal drug trade.
Duterte slammed De Lima, whom he called an “immoral woman” and an “adulterer,” for her continuing silence on her “sex escapades” which has led her “to commit several serious violations of law.”
Also identified in the matrix were former Pangasinan governor and now Representative Amado Espino, former justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, Baraan’s brother Raffy and former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo also claimed earlier that Duterte is in possession of evidence that could possibly implicate the senator in the narcotics web.
Aguirre also said at least 12 high-profile inmates will testify against the senator, including convicted robber-turned-singer Herbert Colangco and convicted kidnapper Noel Martinez, leader of the Genuine Ilocano, one of the biggest gangs inside the New Bilibid Prison.
In the same radio inteview, Aguirre slammed the suggestion made by another Liberal stalwart, Senator Franklin Drilon who claimed De Lima has the power to place witnesses under protective custody without the approval of the Senate leadership.
“The Senate has no power to admit witnesses to protect them, but only the Justice Department,” Aguirre said.
“If [witness Edgar] Matobato really has proof to what he is saying, the Justice Department is ready to protect him,” he added.
On Saturday, Drilon claimed that every Senate committee has an inherent power “to provide protective custody to any of its witnesses or resource persons, whose testimonies are crucial in the exercise of their functions.”
“Such power cannot be vetoed by the Senate President,” Drilon said. “What is subject to the approval of the Senate president is the use of the Senate premises in providing protection to a witness, because the Senate President has the control over the premises of the Senate.”
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III had earlier nixed De Lima’s request to place Matobato under protective custody, saying there was no Senate rule to justify this.
Aguirre reiterated his doubts against Matobato, who testified for the first time during the Senate hearing conducted by De Lima allegedly linking President Rodrigo Duterte to the Davao Death Squad.
Asked if Matobato would pass the requirements under the Justice Department’s Witness Protection Program, Aguirre answered in the negative: “He (Matobato) is a coached witness and a perjured witness.”
Matobato had earlier said that he has been part of the Witness Protection Program before, but left when Duterte took office -- a claim that Aguirre denies.
Aguirre said that De Lima has done nothing substantial to link the President to the Davao Death Squad.
“From 2009 to 2016, De Lima never filed a single case against the DDS despite the fact that she was former Commission on Human Rights chair and Justice Secretary,” he said.
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