DoJ has witnesses vs De Lima, Baraan in illegal drug trade in NBP

MANILA — Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday said that the agency has witnesses to provide the evidence against Senator Leila De Lima and former DoJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan link to the illegal drug trade in New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.

However, Aguirre said the agency did not go into details on what evidence they have against de Lima and Baraan but they would present it when the House of Representatives started its inquiry on the issue.

“There are several witnesses who are already executing their sworn statements as of now. For the house investigation where we will present our witnesses, these will be the house investigation on the proliferation of prohibited drugs at NBP,” Aguirre told reporters after the culminating activity of the European Union-Philippines Justice Support Programme held in Pasig City.

He noted that the DoJ has five or six sworn statements against De Lima which all involves the cause of the proliferation and the neglect that they did why the drugs proliferated in the NBP.

“Well I’ve been saying we are not focusing our investigation to any particular individual but definitely when I say that we are investigating ex officials of DoJ that include the highest to the lowest as long as we could show that there is probable cause against them. We are going to file the necessary charges,” he added.

The DOJ chief said one of their witnesses also linked de Lima’s driver-bodyguard Ronnie Palisoc Dayan to the operation of the illegal drugs trade, adding that he collected drug money from high-profile drug lords currently detained at the national penitentiary.

“He collects drug money from high profile drug lords, even after the elections, the two were seen in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan, this was about June after the elections,” said Aguirre.

Aguirre also said he could not yet answer how much de Lima received from her driver.

“But perhaps when the investigation is already nearing its end, we will have some figures already,” he added.

Aguirre said so far the profilers who submitted their sworn statements were only the lieutenants of high-profile drug lords or the bagmen while some inmates and guards are linking de Lima to the illegal activity.

For Baraan issue, Aguirre said information provided by the witnesses said the former DoJ undersecretary was also receiving money but he cautioned that these individuals hadyet to execute affidavit against the former undersecretary.

“May nagsasabi he was the one getting the money. There are so many information, there are so many individuals who expressed intent to execute affidavits,” he explained.

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.

Baraan, in a statement Wednesday, also appealed for fairness and due process though he said he was prepared to face any investigation.

On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said that Malacañang was now in possession of a matrix that showed the alleged role of former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima in the so-called “Muntinlupa Connection” being ran out of the New Bilibid Prison.

The President said that De Lima was the highest ranking public official in the matrix that he intends to divulge to the public in a week’s time.

When pressed by media if he was referring to Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III as the DOJ official, the President said “yes.” Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA/