MANILA – Former justice secretary now Senator Leila de Lima and other personalities named in the prison drug matrix revealed by President Rodrigo Duterte may face graft charges, a Palace official said Friday.
”If and when they have been finally verified, the charges made have to deal with graft and drug-related graft once information is actually verified,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing.
Also identified in the matrix, aside from de Lima were former justice undersecretary Francisco ‘Toti’ Baraan III; Pangasinan’s former governor, now fifth district representative Amado T. Espino; Baraan’s brother Raffy; former Bureau of Corrections (BUCOR) chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu; and de Lima’s former driver and bodyguard Ronnie Palisok Dayan.
Abella said the President’s drug matrix was based on “collaborative intelligence”.
”Actually whatever he comes out with is based on collective intelligence. It’s a collaborative intelligence and so he has certain basis for which we are not privy to,” Abella said.
He said the Department of Justice (DOJ) has several witnesses who surfaced to prove “certain allegations” against the personalities named in the drug matrix.
”They are in the process of taking the affidavits of these particular witnesses, including New Bilibid Prison guards, inmates and former friends of these personalities that have been referred to,” the Palace official said.
Abella said the government is aware that illicit drugs “are not just a national security issue but also a public health issue”.
For this reason, he said, the government, particularly, the Department of Health is developing rehabilitation centers, including a 10-hectare rehabilitation site in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija.
”Alongside that was a sustainable farming and sustainable greening programs, so that when the clients come out, they would have been bettered. They have not only been detoxed, but they also have learned some skills and also some sustainable things,” he said.
Police have reported that more than 600,000 drug dependents have surrendered to authorities while at least 10,000 have been arrested and more than 700 killed in legitimate police operations.
Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar said the release of the drug matrix proved that President Duterte is not selective in his aggressive campaign against illegal drugs.
”At least, finally meron po tayong tinatawag na social justice, na hindi lang po iyong mga mahihirap kundi pati ho iyong mga powerful ay hindi ini-excuse ng Presidente,” Andanar said in a Radyo Singko interview.
(“At least, finally we have so-called social justice — that the President does not excuse anyone — not the poor, not the powerful,” Andanar said in a Radyo Singko interview.)
Andanar said those who have been accused can go to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to clear their names.
”Malugod naman na tinatangap ng PNP iyong mga personalities na gustong linisin iyong kanilang pangalan, even before makarating po ito sa korte,” he said.
(“The PNP welcomes personalities who want to clear their names, even before their cases reach the court,” he said.)
”We are not putting a finality sa kanilang innocence or pagiging guilty(on their innocence or guilt), that is why lahat po ng nabanggit (all those mentioned), you will have a day in court, and you will also have your day to clarify your name even before you get to the courts,” he added. PNA/northboundasia.com