De Lima calls Guevarra ignorant for accepting convicts as witnesses
Detained Senator Leila de Lima has called Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra “ignorant” over his claims that there are no convict state witnesses being used against her.
“Guevarra says there are no convict State Witnesses being used against me because no convict has been discharged as such under Sec. 17, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court,” De Lima said in a dispatch from Camp Crame.
“He seems to be ignorant that this is not the only legal provision that turns a person into a State Witness,” she added.
She noted that state witnesses are not only provided for in Section 17 Rule 119 of the Rules of Court but as well us under the Witness Protection Security and Benefits Program (WPSBP) administered by Guevarra as Justice Secretary.
“Guevarra should read that specific provision in the law. It is prefaced as “State Witness”, and it provides for the circumstances, conditions, and qualifications on how one becomes a State Witness under the WPSBP,” the senator added.
De Lima pointed out that the said provision was also used by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its former secretary, Vitaliano Aguirre II, to turn convicted Bilibid inmates into state witnesses.
The inmates, according to the senator, were “illegally” turned into state witnesses as the crimes they were convicted for involve moral turpitude.
According to Section 10 (e) of RA 6981, criminals convicted of such crimes are not qualified to turn state witness, she added.
“Guevarra has no excuse in not knowing the status of these criminal convicts as state witnesses under his witness protection program (WPP),” De Lima said.
“His prosecutors are using them illegally as witnesses against me. His department granted them immunity illegally so they can testify against me,” she added.
The senator also claimed that Guevarra’s agency “illegally excluded” the state witnesses against her from criminal charges.
Even if the state witnesses, De Lima pointed out, are the ones who actually confessed to illegal drug trading, they should have been the first to be charged.
“Ano ba ang sinasabi nila na ordinary witnesses lang ang mga yan? Hindi ba, kaya pinasok sila ng DOJ sa WPP ay para mabigyan, at nabigyan nga, ng immunity bilang State Witnesses? It’s plain common sense and logic,” she said.
“Malinaw na hindi naman sila papayag na mag-testigo kung wala silang immunity. Ang immunity na iyan sa ilalim ng WPP Law at iba pang mga pinangako sa kanila ni dating SOJ Aguirre, bukod sa matinding pressure sa kanila, ang motibo nila sa pag-testigo laban sa akin base sa mga kasinungalingan,” she added.
Earlier, De Lima filed criminal and administrative complaints against Aguirre and Guevarra for illegally admitting convicted felons as state witnesses.
However, Guevarra insisted that no convicted person has been used as a state witness under Rule 119 against the senator. /jpv
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