Aguirre belies claims that witnesses vs De Lima were rehearsed
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on Wednesday denied claims that the Bilibid inmates who testified against Senator Leila De Lima were rehearsed.
During the second day of the House of Representatives justice committee inquiry over the proliferation of drugs at the national penitentiary, Aguirre said he was only able to talk to the witnesses for 10 minutes before the House probe on Tuesday.
He cited as an example witness Rodolfo Magleo whom Aguirre said he only met 10 minutes before the hearing yesterday.
“Hindi ko pa nakakausap except in the morning kahapon for about 10 minutes,” Aguirre said. (I have not talked to them except yesterday morning for about 10 minutes) He however added that he was able to talk to Magleo on Sunday.
“Pinapaalam ko sa inyo, hindi po ako nag-re-rehearse ng witness,” Aguirre said. (I would like to inform you that I do not rehearse a witness)
Aguirre added that if he had rehearsed the witness, it was only for them to tell the truth.
“At kung rehearsed ang witness na yan, ang sasabihin ko lang sa kanya ay ang magsabi ng katotohanan,” Aguirre said.
Aguirre made the statement after De Lima delivered a privilege speech and claimed that Bilibid convicts and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officials who served as Aguirre’s witnesses had an ax to grind against her.
“Sino naman po ang mga testigo nila? Mga preso sa Bilibid, mga convicted criminals, DOJ or NBI officials and others who have an axe to grind against me, or those who have skeletons in their closet and are now being pressured to do Malacañang’s bidding at the risk of being charged themselves,” De Lima said in her privilege speech.
De Lima raised the possibility that the witnesses might have been tortured to make up stories, warning those behind the plot against her that their day will come (“may araw din kayo”).
In the House hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Reynaldo Umali, who chairs the committee on justice, asked the witnesses if they were forced or intimidated to testify. The witnesses said no.
“Sa puntong ito, gusto kong iparating ang aking pagpapatawad sa lahat ng tumatayo at tatayong witness laban sa akin sa House hearing. Alam ko na kayo ay napilitan at napuwersa lamang para idawit ako sa kung anumang anomalya sa Bilibid, gamit ang panggigipit, blackmail, o marahil pati torture. Ang hindi ko mapapatawad ay ang mga nasa likod nitong pag-imbento ng ebidensiya laban sa akin. May araw din po kayo,” De Lima said.
On Tuesday, Aguirre held a direct examination on the witnesses Bilibid inmates 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 inside Bilibid.
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