Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Wednesday that the Department of Justice had witnesses to prove that his predecessor, Senator Leila De Lima, and former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III were responsible for the proliferation of the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
Aguirre said four to six witnesses, composed of NBP guards, inmates and “people close to” De Lima and Baraan, would be presented at the upcoming House investigation into the NBP mess.
“It is proceeding (gathering of evidence against De Lima, Baraan) very good. There are several witnesses who are already executing their sworn statements as of now,” the Cabinet official said on the sidelines of the Europe-Philippines Justice Reform Program event in Pasig City.
Aguirre also reiterated that the goal of their investigation was to know why the illegal drug trade flourished at NBP and not just to pin down certain personalities.
“Well, I’ve been saying we are not focusing our investigation to any particular individual but definitely when I say that we are investigating ex-officials of DOJ (Department of Justice) that include the highest to the lowest as long as we could show that there is probable cause against them,” Aguirre said.
“We are going to file the necessary charges,” he added.
No less than President Rodrigo Duterte accused De Lima of receiving drug money from the NBP by using her driver-bodyguard to deal with drug lords–an allegation the senator dismissed as character assassination following her criticism of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects under the new administration.
Hitting De Lima again on Wednesday, Duterte insinuated that the former justice secretary would not have allowed drug lords to continue with their illicit operations “for nothing.”
Aguirre could not say yet if there would be drug lords who would implicate De Lima although he believes the neophyte lawmaker’s driver would not have collected the drug money without her knowledge.
On Baraan, Aguirre said: “May nagsasabi he was the one getting the money.”
Baraan has since denied the allegation, saying it “contradicts the deepest Christian values I hold dear.”
Aguiree said he had no information about the amount of drug money that allegedly went to De Lima.
“No. Perhaps when the investigation is already near its end we will have some figures already,” Aguirre said.
De Lima has repeatedly denied her alleged involvement in illegal drugs
by By VIRGIL LOPEZ, GMA News
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