DoJ readying cases vs persons involved in illegal drugs trade at NBP

MANILA – Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Monday that there is “probable cause” to file cases against the persons involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the National Bilibid Prisons (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.

Aguirre said they were now readying the complaint based on the affidavits executed by some of the “Bilibid 19” inmates who will be going to testify against de Lima in the inquiry on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the NBP by the House of Representatives Monday.

The Bilibid 19 were the 19 high-profile inmates who were transferred on de Lima’s order from the NBP to the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation last 2014 as part of a wider crackdown on the illegal drugs trade inside the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.

”Yes meron base lang dun sa affidavit (witneses) pwede na magfile ng complaint this will undergo preliminary investigation ang nature is on violation of drugs law, anti graft possible,” Aguirre told reporters during the press conference a day before the Congressional panel investigating the alleged involvement of Sen. Leila De Lima in the illegal drugs trade inside NBP.

He noted that they were doing case build-up and also the agency still waiting for results of their request for Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to show the financial transactions because of the evidence of deposit slips.

”Nag buildup pa ng case kung pwede na bakit kailangan pa kayo humarap sa house bakit hindi alam ninyo pag build up ng case hindi lang ganun still waiting for request sa AMLA, may hawak kmi deposit slip na dun dineposit na maaring even in testimonial alone may probable cause na maaari na (file)” he added.

In related development, Aguirre said immunity from suit would be given to those witnesses, including inmates, who would appear before the Congressional investigating panel on Tuesday.

Aguirre said that he already talked to the congressmen and the immunity is necessary to encourage the witnesses including the inmates to reveal all on how drugs proliferated inside the prison that spread around the country.

“I discussed it with the leaders of the House. Reasonable naman ito. Whatever they will say, hindi sila maaaring idemanda . It could not be used against them,” Aguirre explained.

However, Aguirre said that the inmates who will testify against De Lima will not be given priority for a possible pardon or commutation of sentence.

“We are not planning to recommend anybody. Ito sinabi ko sa inyo sa totoo lang hindi ko pa nakakausap si Presidente Duterte tungkol ditto sa kampanya na ito hindi niya alm yung ginagawa ko,” Aguirre said.

But he clarified that the inmates will not be given priority for a possible pardon or commutation of sentence.

“May power ang President to grant pardon but we have no plan to recommend any of them for pardon or commutation of sentence,” he said adding that there was no concession or reward for the inmates who will testify against de Lima.

He said the inmates’ main motivation for coming out was the seriousness of the anti-drug campaign of the Duterte administration.

“Hindi ako pumunta sa kanila, ang kanilang mga kamag anak ang pumunta sa DOJ at nagsabi na handa silang makipagtulungan sa DOJ at handang isiwalat nangyayari sa Bilibid kasi naniniwala sila sa kampanya against drugs ni Presidente,” he said.

He added the inmates have their own lawyers helping them prepare their respective affidavits.

Among the witnesses who will testify include National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Deputy Director Rafael Ragos, his driver-escort Junior Ablen and high-profile inmates Herbert “Ampang” Colangco and Noel Martinez.

Aguirre said that according to PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa that 75 percent of illegal drug transaction came from the NBP.

He said that DoJ fully supports President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs as they are committed to assisting the President in all that can fully eradicate the menace to society.

”To attaintment of the foregoing ends, the perpetrators and those responsible for the drug trade should find nothing but prosecution and punishment under our laws. One area of concern for us is the proliferation and the escalation of the drug trade in the National Penitentiary. We believe that this will not have happened if the persons in charge and those in authority did their jobs. Apparently, the drug trade in the Bilibid Prisons had the consent and was condoned by these people,” Aguirre said. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA/