Justice Velasco refutes links to convicted drug lord
Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. on Friday refuted the claim of detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima linking him with convicted drug lord German Agojo.
In a statement released by the Public Information Office of the Supreme Court, Velasco referred to Agojo as an “alleged drug lord” despite the fact that the high court had upheld his conviction in 2009.
Agojo was one of the New Bilibid Prison convicts who had testified against the senator in the drug trafficking case brought against her in the Department of Justice.
De Lima, who was indicted after openly criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal drug war, raised Velasco’s supposed effort to void Agojo’s guilty verdict in seeking his inhibition from the petition she had filed in the tribunal that questioned the legality of the cases brought against her.
She had also asked the 15-member tribunal to order her release from the detention cell of Camp Crame, where she had been held since her arrest in February.
“Justice Velasco does not know nor has he met Mr. Agojo and has no relationship whatsoever with the alleged drug lord,” Velasco’s statement read.
“The attempt of Senator De Lima to inhibit Justice Velasco could simply be an attempt on her part to gain an advantage in connection with her pending case before the Supreme Court involving illegal drug trade and/or conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade,” it said.
Velasco noted that De Lima cited an investigative report written by veteran journalist Marites Vitug, titled “Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court,” as a basis for demanding his inhibition.
De Lima said Velasco was “unfit to decide the case at bar due to conflict of interest.”
“The conflict of interest stems from prior actuations in connection to German Agojo, a primary witness in the case,” she argued.
But Velasco said he actually sued Vitug for libel before the Manila Regional Trial Court “for her false and libelous remarks.”
He said he eventually opted to withdraw the complaint “out of compassion.”
Velasco also denied the allegations that he tried to oppose the ruling written by now retired Associate Justice Dante Tinga, which sustained Agojo’s conviction.
“Justice Tinga clarified that the deliberation on the Agojo case was very ‘uneventful,’” he said.
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