Sebastian denies he’s De Lima asset, seeks immunity from suit
Kidnapping convict Jaybee Sebastian has asked the House of Representatives justice committee for immunity from suit, saying he was willing to testify in the House inquiry into the proliferation of drugs at the Bilibid.
He also denied being a government asset of Senator Leila De Lima when the latter was justice secretary.
Sebastian arrived at the Lower House around 7:30 a.m. as a witness in the House inquiry in aid of legislation looking into the drug trade that Sebastian allegedly monopolized after the pull-out of the so-called “Bilibid 19” led by robbery convict Herbert Colanggo, who also allegedly operated the trade.
Wearing a gray jacket, Sebastian casually walked to his seat with his hands in his pocket accompanied by Bilibid security at the start of the hearing.
Bilibid inmates who testified in the House inquiry alleged that Sebastian was De Lima’s favored drug lord who raised campaign funds for the senator from the drug trade.
During the previous hearing last Thursday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Sebastian was advised by his doctors not to attend the hearing.
Aguirre today said Sebastian was not among those requested to be granted immunity from suit in connection with the testimony before the congressional inquiry.
Aguirre said this was because the Department of Justice did not arrange for Sebastian’s presence in the committee.
“We have no participation in connection with his appearance this morning,” Aguirre said.
Sebastian was accompanied by his lawyer Eduardo Arriba.
Arriba asked the committee that Sebastian be granted immunity from suit in connection with his testimony before the House inquiry.
Aribba also asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to place Sebastian under the witness protection program.
“May we ask with respect to placing the witness under Witness Protection Program, as well as granting in his favor immunity by this Honorable Body,” Arriba said.
Upon the questioning of majority floor leader Rudy Farinas, Sebastian said he was willing to tell the truth when he is placed under witness protection.
Asked by committee chairman Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali if Sebastian was a government asset as claimed by De Lima, Sebastian said: “No, your Honor. Yun gusto kong linawin dito, your Honor.”
Aguirre said the DOJ would study Sebastian’s request to be placed under witness protection.
“I believe there are so many things more they can testify on if they can convince the DOJ. Then we might consider putting him under Witness Protection Program. As of today, hintayin natin,” Aguirre said.
The committee has forwarded Sebastian’s request for immunity to the office of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
The Bilibid riot that almost killed Sebastian started when convicted police officer Clarence Dongail caught inmates Peter Co, Tony Co, and Vicente Sy having a “pot session” inside their cell at the Bilibid maximum security compound.
Tony Co went to the cell of Sebastian and Dongail and attacked Dongail with a knife, sparking the riot. Tony Co was killed in the riot, while Peter Co was in critical condition and Sebastian sustained multiple puncture wounds.
De Lima has said Sebastian was a government asset in the Dec. 2014 raid that cracked down on lavish quarters of Bilibid drug lords. CBB
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