Aguirre: High-profile inmates offered PHP100-M to retract statement vs De Lima

MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday revealed that a solon offered PHP100 million to high-profile inmates at the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Custodial Center to recant their earlier statements in favor of Senator Leila De Lima.

“We have information that the first offer to the inmates were made yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. It was made by a former Senator and an incumbent Congressman of the Liberal Party in the Province of Laguna. The inmates were told that they have to recant before February 25, 2017,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre however did not disclose the identity of the congressman and the senator.

He noted that the offer was also repeated on Thursday morning through former police officer and convicted kidnapper Clarence Dongail.

“The second offer was made through Clarence Dongail, another Bilibid inmate incarcerated at the AFP Custodial Center this morning. In both instances, the inmates said no,” he explained.

”Ihahanda ko yung mga eight inmates who are going to confirm this, that they rejected it, and that it was offered to them this morning,” he told reporters after the launching of EU and Justice Sector Coordinating Council GOJUST program held in Manila Hotel.

Asked on how the offer was made to the inmates, Aguirre told reporters using the common mobile phone in the area.

“Pinatawagan dun sa isang contact nila , so binigay yung telepono and then tinawagan and then the cellphone was , ginawang nasa speaker phone , narinig nung walo, nireject nung walo.”

He added that they will file a complaint against these people because “that it is illegal, that is immoral , that is a crime.”

“Well-funded and evidently without scruples. This is tampering of the highest order. We are taking the matter very seriously and we will go after those who are responsible,” Aguirre said.

Asked what is the implication on this incident, Aguirre says “significance is that they wanted to use this to attract more people in EDSA anniversary to generate people power.”

The offer was made a day before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court held a hearing for De Lima’s bid to dismiss the drug charges filed against her.

The inmates set to testify against De Lima are Herbert Colanggo, Engelberto Aceñas Dureno, Vicenty Sy, Jojo Baligad and Wu Tuan Yuan or Peter Co. These five inmates have been excluded in the drug charges filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against De Lima and several others before the three Regional Trial Courts in Muntinlupa. CHRISTOPHER LLOYD CALIWAN/