De Lima hits DOJ for refusing to send 11 PDLs back to NBP

De Lima hits DOJ for refusing to send 11 PDLs back to NBP

By: - Reporter / @zacariansINQ
/ 08:24 PM December 22, 2023

Former senator Leila de Lima hits DOJ for refusing to send 11 PDLs back to NBP


MANILA, Philippines — Former senator Leila de Lima on Friday criticized the Department of Justice (DOJ) over its apparent opposition to the return of 11 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) to the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

De Lima believed that the DOJ’s stance only showed that it “[stands] by its former secretaries’ [Vitaliano Aguirre II and Menardo Guevarra] bogus charges” against her.


“[The] DOJ wants the truth-telling by these witnesses to be made more difficult, by keeping them isolated and almost inaccessible from the hills of Sablayan Penal Colony in Mindoro, if only to prevent them from divulging who among DOJ officials, past and present, connived and conspired to fabricate testimonies and manufacture evidence in the three drug cases Duterte filed vs me,” said de Lima, who is currently out of detention as the court allowed her to post bail.


A Muntinlupa court previously ordered the transfer of the 11 PDLs, who were tagged as witnesses against de Lima, to the NBP.

READ: If DOJ has its way, 11 witnesses vs De Lima won’t be returned to NBP – exec

But the DOJ was lukewarm about the directive, saying it prefers the 11 PDLs to stay at the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Mindoro Occidental. For the DOJ, sending back the inmates to NBP would look like a reward for withdrawing their testimonies against the former senator.

The DOJ further reasoned that, “Recantations are always looked unfavorably, not just by the [Supreme Court] but also by the legal system in general.”

De Lima, however, challenged this view of the DOJ, arguing that it is only true if the recanting witness is not presented again for cross-examination.

“But precisely, this is what the DOJ seemingly wants to avoid by keeping the inmate-witnesses isolated in Sablayan,” she said.


“The DOJ wants to prevent them from testifying again in court on their recantations to stop the identification of DOJ officials who played a crucial role in forcing them to lie & fabricate evidence in my cases,” she added.

READ: De Lima now expects Ombudsman to probe ex-DOJ chiefs Aguirre, Guevarra

She also reiterated her camp’s continuing assertion that the witnesses against her were convicted felons.

“As convicted felons, they’re not ordinary witnesses, but they are also disqualified from testifying as state witnesses under Witness Protection Law. And yet the DOJ stood by them when it suited their purpose of singing the tune that they wanted,” said De Lima.

“Now that they are recanting, DOJ is saying that they are convicted felons, and that their recantations are not credible. These are the same convict-witnesses DOJ said were credible when they followed what their handlers and the prosecutors wanted them to say,” she added.

READ: Ex-cop Valeroso to recant accusations against De Lima

De Lima, a former DOJ chief herself, further stressed that the Bureau of Corrections’ authority over prisoners and their transfers is not absolute, as it yields to the courts when deemed necessary for the administration of justice, especially in cases involving prisoner-witnesses.

DOJ: We’re only doing what we think is right

In a statement on Friday, the DOJ said they are only doing what they think is right regarding the matter.

“We are doing what we think is the right thing to do. Nothing more, nothing less,” DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano told reporters through Viber.

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Clavano previously said the DOJ is studying its next step following the Muntilupa court’s decision to transfer the 11 PDLs to NBP.

TAGS: Department of Justice, Leila de Lima, New Bilibid Prison

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