MANILA – “Show up yourself if there is nothing to hide.”
This was the reaction of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to Senator Leila De Lima’s statement refusing to attend Tuesday’s inquiry at the House of Representatives in connection with her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
De Lima on Monday maintained that she will not appear in the congressional probe into the proliferation of illegal drugs at the national penitentiary, which she called a “sham inquiry” supposedly ordered by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to destroy her image.
”Well, kung talagang naniniwala siya na wala siyang kasalanan, ako, pag sa akin nangyari yun, mabilis pa sa alas kwatro, magpepresenta ako tomorrow. Unang una, ang sinasabi niya na parang sham yung hearing sa House, eh papaano mo masasabi — anong description mo dun sa nangyari kay Motabato? Ikalawa, yung chairman ng Committee on Justice, si Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali, ay kaniyang kaklase at ka-fraternity pa nya. So, what is she afraid of? Saka hindi nya pwedeng sabihin na lahat ng sasabihin ng mga witness ay puro kasinungalingan. Hindi ba ganun ang sinsabi nya? Masyadong premature yun. Basahin mo muna o tingnan mo muna kung ano ang nilalaman ng kanilang affidavit para masabi mong ang mga taong ito ay puro kasinungalingan ang sinasabi,” he told reporters in a press conference held at the DOJ in Manila.
Aguirre also said that considering his 44 years’ experience as a litigator, he already knows when a person is lying or telling the truth.
”Alam ko kung nagsasabi ng totoo ang tao o hindi. Bigyan mo ako ng 10 minutes, sasabihin ko sa’yo kung totoo o hindi,” he said.
The DOJ Chief also defended the credibility of the convicted witnesses they will be presenting in the inquiry as he turned the tables on De Lima for presenting Ernesto Matobato, a self-confessed member of the Davao Death Squad who claimed that President Duterte ordered the killings of more than 1,000 criminals in the city when he was still its mayor.
Asked to describe De Lima’s role in the illegal drugs trade at the NBP, whether she was a protector or a coddler, Aguirre said it would be better to wait for and listen to the House inquiry on Tuesday.
“That would be a conclusion on my part, pero bahala na kayong mag-conclude bukas pag napakinggan nyo yung testimony. Kung hindi sya direct participant, sobrang gross negligence o pinabayaan nya,” he said.
Aguirre said information showed that Jaybee “JB” Sebastian ordered the “bosyo” or the head of various gangs inside the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City to sell drugs.
Convicted of kidnapping for ransom and car theft, Sebastian is one of the influential inmates in Bilibid that is allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade.
“Even before 2013, pinagbuti na ni JB Sebastian ang pagbibigay ng drogang ipagbibili, inupahan nya yung mga bosyo. Even in 2011, nag-umpisa nang may drug money na pumupunta sa direksyon ni Secretary de Lima. Kasi even before 2013, parang nagbalak na rin si Secretary de Lima na tumakbo noong 2013 pero di natuloy yan,” Aguirre said.
He said the illegal drug trade continued with Sebastian telling the gang leaders to proceed since De Lima was sure to run in the 2016 polls.
He said Sebastial ordered the gang leaders to sell as much as 50 kilos per month of illegal drugs, mostly methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, through their contacts outside of the NBP.
Earlier, De Lima had repeatedly denied allegations on her supposed involvement in the illegal drug trade. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA/northboundasia.com