‘I’ll be dead in a month’
Former antinarcotics agent Mary “Rosebud” Ong on Tuesday asked to remain in the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP), saying that once out of the WPP, “I will be dead in one month.”
“I am still under threat. I am afraid now more than ever,” said Ong, who had linked former Philippine National Police chief turned senator Panfilo Lacson to the illegal drugs trade and kidnapping for ransom cases, in a telephone interview.
Ong said Lacson and the other police officers she had named in a Senate investigation, and subsequently testified against in court, were just waiting for a chance “to get rid of me, execution style.”
Ong said she received a letter last Thursday from Justice Secretary Leila de Lima stating that she was being dropped from the WPP beginning Sept. 30.
She said the termination was based on a certification from the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp) that she was no longer under threat.
But Ong insisted the Isafp evaluation was wrong.
She said that even former Isafp chief, retired Brig. Gen. Victor Corpus, had warned her about threats to her life.
Corpus, she said, visited her at her Camp Aquinaldo safe house on Aug. 6 to tell her that Isafp chief Maj. Gen. Romulo Bambao wanted “me out of Isafp.”
Ong lives in a three-bedroom apartment in the Logistics Command area of Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City. The low-built structure was previously used by Isafp officers.
“Corpus told me I should not leave Isafp because my detractors are out to get me. If I leave Isafp, I should go straight to the airport, take a plane, go to another country,” she said.
Ong believes Lacson had a hand in her removal from the WPP.
“If the Isafp made that evaluation that I have no more threats (to my life) then I will interpret it like this, nireregalo na nila ako kay Ping para patayin ako sa labas (they are giving as a present to Ping so I can be killed outside).”
She appealed to De Lima, pointing out that she was still a witness in an ongoing trial of a kidnap for ransom case.
She said her agreement with the DOJ states that witnesses would remain in the program while their cases were pending.
At a Senate hearing on Tuesday on the Department of Justice’s proposed P9.7-billion budget for 2012, Lacson asked De Lima about Ong’s status in the WPP.
“Can I give you the information not openly,” said De Lima. “I’m afraid (the issue) is covered by the confidentiality provision under the (WPP).”
Lacson said he had learned that Ong had been dropped from the program, “in fact just (last Monday).”
“Actually that should be the information that I would be giving to you,” said De Lima, adding that Ong was removed from the WPP after the Isafp said it no longer saw any threat to her safety.
“There was no threat in the first place,” Lacson retorted.
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