Speaker grants immunity to convicts testifying vs De Lima
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has granted the request of the New Bilibid Prison convicts who will testify against Senator Leila De Lima to have immunity from suit in connection with their testimony during the House of Representatives inquiry.
During the House of Representatives justice committee’s inquiry over the proliferation of drugs at the national penitentiary on Tuesday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said the convicts’ lawyers have asked for immunity from suit for their clients insofar as their testimonies before Congress were concerned.
“They were not asking anything, and we weren’t promising them anything. Their lawyers approached this representation if it’s possible their clients be offered immunity… I agree that it’s very reasonable,” Aguirre said.
Majority floor leader Rudy Fariñas moved for a motion to ask Speaker Alvarez to grant the convicts’ immunity.
The House justice committee approved the motion in only so far as the request to send a letter to Alvarez, who would be the one to decide whether or not to grant the convicts immunity.
After the committee showed a Discovery Channel documentary involving the drug trade in Bilibid, Fariñas went back to the hearing and said the Speaker has approved the grant of immunity pursuant to the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.
He added that the following witnesses would also be protected under the Witness Protection Program.
Fariñas cited Section 12 of the law which states that “Admission into the Program shall entitle such State Witness to immunity from criminal prosecution for the offense or offenses in which his testimony will be given or used and all the rights and benefits…”
Aguirre named the following convicts to testify against De Lima – robbery convict Herbert Colangco and kidnap for ransom convict Jaybee Sebastian.
Aguirre said Colangco was ordered by Sebastian to sell drugs in the Bilibid to raise funds for De Lima’s senatorial bid.
Aguirre called Sebastian one of the “financiers” of De Lima’s senatorial campaign.
Aguirre added that witness Noel Martinez would testify that Sebastian introduced gang leaders to De Lima in 2013.
Aguirre said Martinez was told by Sebastian that De Lima needed funds for the latter’s senatorial campaign.
“Jaybee Sebastian ordered the centralization of drug sale and required other gang leaders in exchange for protection and special treatment,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre said NBI deputy director general Rafael Ragos, an officer in charge at the Bureau of Corrections, would testify that he had delivered a black bag containing P5 million to De Lima’s house in Paranaque. Also present was De Lima’s alleged lover, driver and bagman Ronnie Dayan.
“He will testify that in 2012, he brought a black bag containing money .. containing limang manok, in Bilbid language for P5 million, to Ronnie Dayan,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre said Ragos’ driver escort Jun Ablen would also testify that they delivered money to De Lima and Dayan in De Lima’s house in Paranaque.
Aguirre said Ragos delivered P5 million twice to De Lima for a total of P10 million.
Retired police major Rodolfo Magleo would testify that Sebastian paid millions of pesos to De Lima.
The other witnesses are Bilibid inmates Joel Capones and Jaime Patcho.
Those who were granted immunity were Ablen, Colangco, Ragos, Martinez, Magleo and Patcho. IDL/rga
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