Bilibid convicts vs De Lima sought pardon during Aquino’s time
The Bilibid convicts who testified against Senator Leila De Lima in the House of Representatives inquiry into the alleged drug trade there have sought clemency from former President Benigno Aquino III.
This was revealed in a press briefing by De Lima’s ally in Congress, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, who was furnished the list by the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) in a letter dated Oct. 14.
The request is pending, but Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II earlier said that the inmates asked nothing in return in exchange for their testimonies.
The letter said the following witnesses against De Lima sought executive clemency or pardon:
Engelberto Durano—Carpeta requested Oct. 27, 2015
Nonilo Arile—Carpeta requested Jan. 25, 2011
Jaime Patcho—Carpeta returned to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on April 15, 2016 as requested by the BuCor
Jojo Baligad—For verification of pending criminal cases per his record with the National Bureau of Investigation
Vicente Sy—for verification of other pending cases
Carpeta refers to the institutional record of an inmate.
The letter was signed by the BPP Executive Director Reynaldo Bayang.
“In the case of probation, our Office is not competent to answer your query as it falls under the jurisdiction of the Parole and Probation Administration,” the letter to Alejano read.
Meanwhile, the other witnesses against De Lima have no pending application for pardon or executive clemency—Rodolfo Magleo, Herbert Colanggo, Noel Martinez, Froilan Trestiza, Hans Tan, Jaybee Sebastian and Peter Co.
Sebastian was alleged to be De Lima’s favored drug lord who led the drug monopoly to raise campaign funds for the senator when she was Justice Secretary. Co, on the other hand, was another Chinese drug lord who allegedly delivered campaign funds to De Lima.
Alejano said the inmates at the Bilibid who testified against De Lima were all polluted witnesses.
“I still maintained that these are polluted witnesses. They are forced to testify… Kung magsinungaling sila, hindi na sila natatakot makulong kasi kulong na sila (They could lie and not be afraid to be jailed because they are already in prison). Out of the 12 inmates, five of them have pending applications for pardon or executive clemency,” Alejano said.
In the same press briefing, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the witnesses’ testimony linking De Lima to the alleged Bilibid drug trade was their “ticket to freedom.”
“Itong (This) application for clemency will be enhanced by their cooperation in giving their testimonies. Ito ay posibleng (This is a possible) ticket to freedom,” Lagman said.
Lagman also scored the House justice committee for allowing itself to be used as a kangaroo court for the DOJ to present its witnesses against De Lima.
“The DOJ is the proper forum for such prosecutorial investigations. It’s so unfortunate that the committee on justice allowed itself to be used as a vehicle for a shame and vilification campaign,” Lagman said.
The convicts have been granted immunity from suit by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in so far as their testimonies were concerned.
The list of convicts who sought clemency is led by Sy, the Chinese drug lord who was accused of having an affair with sexy actress Rosanna Roces, an accusation the latter vehemently denied.
Sy has admitted giving bribes to Bilibid officials in order to get preferential treatment from behind bars.
Durano, a former police official, testified that De Lima allegedly received P1.5 million from slain drug lord Jeffrey Diaz alias “Jaguar,” the top drug lord in Central Visayas, through her former driver and purported lover Ronnie Dayan.
Durano is also said to be a relative of De Lima’s mortal enemy President Rodrigo Duterte, whom the senator investigated in the Senate hearing for his alleged involvement in the spate of extrajudicial killings of drug pushers. The Senate committee on justice and human rights now chaired by Senator Richard Gordon cleared the President of accountability.
Meanwhile, a former Manila policeman Arile claimed that Sebastian set up fellow drug lords to earn De Lima’s trust.
Patcho, leader of the Commando Gang, testified that Sebastian talked to him for help in raising campaign funds for De Lima.
Patcho also testified he saw De Lima at least twice in the Bilibid heading to the kubol of Sebastian.
Lastly, Baligad, a murder convict, testified that De Lima received P1.5 million from another alleged Bilibid drug lord Colanggo as her share in the purported drug trade.
Baligad also admitted paying a weekly payoff to Bilibid officials—National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director General and then BuCor officer in charge Rafael Ragos, and a certain Col. Elie from the office of succeeding BuCor director Franklin Bucayu.
Bucayu and Ragos have denied receiving payoffs from the drug trade. RAM/rga
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