De Lima files criminal, administrative raps vs Aguirre, Guevarra
Senator Leila de Lima filed criminal and administrative complaint against former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II and incumbent Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra for illegally admitting convicted felons as state witnesses.
In a 22-page complaint-affidavit submitted to the Ombudsman last Oct. 29, De Lima accused Aguirre of admitting convicted felons with crimes “involving moral turpitude” as state witnesses. She said this violated Section 10 of Republic Act (R.A.) 6981 or Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.
Aguirre was also accused of committing “felony of dereliction of duty” which violated Section 3 of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act or R.A. 3019.
Meanwhile, Guevarra was similarly cited in the complaint for having continually allowed the illegal admission of criminals into the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program (WPSBP).
Guevarra was also slapped with a complaint about “gross misconduct and negligence” for his failure to prosecute convicted felons, despite testimonies and extra-judicial confessions that they had engaged in illegal drug trading in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
The complaint said Aguirre presented the witnesses in the hearings of the House Committee on Justice on the alleged illegal drug trading at the NBP in 2016.
The witnesses who were convicted felons include Jojo Baligad, Peter Co, Vicente Sy, Hans Anton Tan, Herbert Colango, Noel Martinez, Froilan Trestiza, Engelberto Durano, Nonilo Arile, Jaime Patcho, Joel Capones, German Agojo, and Rodolfo Magleo.
They were all convicted due to various offenses with a penalty of reclusion perpetua or up to 40 years imprisonment. The convicts were granted immunity as per the Section 12 of R.A. 6981.
Section 12 of RA 6981 provides that once a witness is admitted to the WPP, he or she shall be immune ‘from criminal prosecution for the offense or offenses in which his testimony will be given or used…”
With this immunity, De Lima said the convicted felons were excluded from the charge sheet, despite admitting their involvement in the drug trade inside the national penitentiary.
The affidavit was signed by De Lima who is currently detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City for alleged involvement in the drug trade. /ee
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