De Lima in for a surprise, Alvarez says of House Bilibid probe
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Davao Del Norte representative and a close friend of President Rodrigo Duterte, on Thursday said Senator Leila De Lima should be in for a surprise in next week’s House of Representatives probe into the alleged drug links of the former justice secretary.
Alvarez made the statement after De Lima presented during a Senate inquiry confessed Davao Death Squad (DDS) hit man Edgar Matobato, who accused Duterte of ordering the killings of critics and rivals in Davao City when he was mayor.
“You will be surprised next week because there will be new witnesses who will surface and testify against people involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs at the NBP (New Bilibid Prison),” Alvarez said in an ambush interview in Dumaguete City, a copy of which was provided by his office.
Alvarez said the Senate hearing on the extrajudicial killings at the height of the administration’s war on drugs may be part of De Lima’s plan to divert the public’s attention from the House of Representatives’ inquiry in aid of legislation scheduled for next week on the NBP drug trade that implicated De Lima when she was justice secretary.
De Lima has turned down the invitation to attend the House probe.
Alvarez called Matobato a “recycled witness” presented by De Lima to divert public interest from the House Bilibid probe.
“Wala nang bago dyan (There is nothing new there). I think he is a recycled witness,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said he also came from Davao but has never heard of Matobato as a hit man belonging to the vigilante group DDS allegedly used by Duterte to kill his critics and rivals during his stint as Davao City mayor.
He said the only DDS group in existence is Die-hard Duterte Supporter, of which Alvarez admits being a member.
“Ako taga-Davao ako at wala naman akong alam na Davao Death Squad (DDS). Die-hard Duterte Supporter, DDS, walang Davao Death Squad. Ako miyembro ako ng DDS (I’m from Davao and I’m not aware of Davao Death Squad (DDS). I only know about Die-hard Duterte Supporter, DDS, but there’s no Davao Death Squad. I’m a member of DDS.),” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said De Lima investigated Duterte’s links to the DDS but did not even file a case in court.
Alvarez said the House probe on the Bilibid drug trade does not intend to usurp the role of the judiciary to investigate the drug allegations, but only intended to make an inquiry in aid of legislation.
“We are not prepared to usurp the functions of the judiciary. We are investigating the causes of the proliferation of illegal drugs at the National Bilibid Prison during her time as justice secretary. And this is done in aid of legislation, so we can determine how we can amend the law to address this problem,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez flew to Dumaguete City on Wednesday to swear in 500 new members of the new ruling party Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) at the Negros Oriental Convention Center.
Duterte himself released a drug matrix linking De Lima to drugs when she was justice secretary. De Lima, a member of the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party, has vehemently denied the allegation, calling the drug matrix rubbish. RAM/rga
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