Aguirre allowed to grill own witnesses in Bilibid drug probe | Inquirer News

Aguirre allowed to grill own witnesses in Bilibid drug probe

/ 06:35 PM September 20, 2016

JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre was allowed to lead Tuesday’s House of Representatives inquiry into the alleged New Bilibid Prison drug trade even though he was not a member of Congress.

In a statement, majority floor leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas said the House justice committee which led the inquiry in aid of legislation allowed Aguirre to conduct the direct examination of the witnesses because it was his office which investigated them.

“He is the Secretary of Justice whose office has investigated these inmates and public officers. Thus, the committee allowed him to present his investigation and the witnesses in relation to the subject matter of the resolution,” Fariñas said.


Fariñas said congressmen were also allowed to interpellate the witnesses after Aguirre finished the direct examination.


“He is not the counsel of these witnesses but a resource person of the committee. As you might have heard, the committee members themselves will have the opportunity to examine the witnesses, and even test their credibility,” Fariñas said.

In a press conference, members of the “Legitimate 8” representatives in the minority bloc questioned why Aguirre was allowed to grill witnesses even though he was not a House member.

“Hindi member ng committee ang nagtatanong. Ang nangyayari, parang siya ang kumuha ng testimony, siya rin ang nagtatanong,” Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said allowing Aguirre to lead the House inquiry was a violation of the House rules because only members of the committee should be allowed to grill the witnesses.

“If Aguirre is acting as counsel of the witnesses, under the rules of the House and under tradition, the lawyer cannot direct questions to the witness. He should pass questions through the committee or committee chair,” Lagman said

“What happened is violation of rules of House,” Lagman added.


Aguirre grilled convicts Rodolfo Magleo and Herbert Colangco and National Bureau of Investigation deputy director general Rafael Ragos and intelligence officer Jun Ablen.

The witnesses alleged that De Lima got millions of payola from the illegal drug trade at the Bilibid./rga


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