DoJ to present 20 witnesses before House probing illegal drug trade at NBP

MANILA – About 20 resource persons and witnesses will be presented before the Congressional panel investigating the illegal drug trade in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Monday.

Aguirre ,who is set to appear before the panel at the House of Representatives on Sept. 19 and 20,.

Aguirre assured that he would continue to interview witnesses to sift through the details and build up their case as more information continued to come.

“Bumabaha kasi sa impormansyon (It is flooding with information),” he said.

Aguirre said three inmates at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) were executing their affidavits linking former Secretary of Justice and now Senator Leila de Lima and her former driver and alleged lover Ronnie Dayan in the illegal drugs trade at the national penitentiary.

The House probe into the alleged NBP drug trafficking operations was sought by a group of solons led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Minority Leader Danilo Suarez shortly after President Rodrigo Duterte implicated Senator Leila de Lima and her former lover and driver Ronnie Dayan to the illegal activities.

The House Committee on Justice is expected to lead the congressional inquiry although the Committees on Public Order and Security and on Illegal Drugs may also be tapped.

Earlier, Aguirre said they had evidence and witnesses against De Lima and former Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, who were both linked by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte to the operation of illegal drugs syndicates at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

Aguirre said they had now several sworn statements executed by individuals against de Lima and Baraan though he clarified “it all involves the cause of the proliferation and the neglect that they did, why the prohibited drugs proliferated at the NBP.”

Both de Lima and Baraan have denied any involvement in the illegal drugs trade with the former saying she was even the one who initiated the investigation and raids against the high-profile drug lords at the NBP in December 2014.

Meanwhile, Juustice committee chairman and Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali said that Dayan had been tapped as the principal resource person, whose presence in the hearing is indispensable.

However, De Lima has already expressed her intention not to appear before the House probe. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA/