Aguirre on De Lima witness: Why only now?
“Why only now?”
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II asked Senator Leila De Lima on Thursday when she made public her witness against President Rodrigo Duterte for his alleged involvement in thousands of extrajudicial killings while he was mayor of Davao City.
Edgar Matobato, in his testimony before the Senate, said he was under the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP) since 2013 but left after Duterte won the presidency.
“Why only now? What did she do when she was Justice Secretary,” Aguirre said in a phone interview.
During the Senate hearing, De Lima said she will require Matobato to execute an affidavit based on what he said during the Senate hearing.
The justice chief said how can Matobato execute an affidavit only now when he had been under the WPP since 2013.
“One of the requirements for admission to the WPP is you have to have an affidavit. One cannot be part of the WPP without executing an affidavit. He is obviously not telling the truth. Can he be trusted?” Aguirre said.
“Where is that affidavit [he executed if he indeed was admitted to WPP]?,” Aguirre said.
While she was Justice Secretary, De Lima boasted of a witness that will pin down Duterte for his ties with the Davao Death Squad (DDS). She said the witness’ testimony is the basis of the National Bureau of Investigation’s (NBI) case buildup.
However, Aguirre noted that De Lima became head of both the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Department of Justice. “Why was it that there was no case filed against Mayor Duterte?” he said.
“Senator De Lima had more than six years to file any case she deems worthy to file. The question that begs asking is why investigate only now,” Aguirre asked.
But was Matobato really admitted to the government’s WPP?
Last May, former Justice Secretary Emmanuel Caparas said he checked on the status of investigation at the NBI and said “there is really nothing there anymore.”
Caparas said he even tried to look into the identity of the witness De Lima was referring to but the witness is no longer under the WPP. He said he did not even know the identity of the witness who he believed left the WPP voluntarily. RAM/rga
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