Duterte rules out talks with Sebastian
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—President Duterte on Friday said he definitely won’t be meeting with convicted kidnapper Jaybee Sebastian even if the latter had information on the illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary.
“I do not talk to criminals. You can go to the fiscal or write a letter to (Foreign Affairs) Secretary (Perfecto) Yasay, if that is feasible,” Mr. Duterte said.
The President was responding to a question on whether or not he would agree to a meeting with Sebastian over the high-profile inmate’s supposed knowledge of the illegal drug activity at the New Bilibid Prison.
Earlier, Sebastian’s lawyer Eduardo Arriba said his client would only disclose what he knew of the illegal drug trade in the Bilibid to Mr. Duterte because making it public may draw the ire of some previous and current government officials.
“Several officials under the previous administration will be implicated in Sebastian’s testimony since he was privy to the transactions,” Arriba earlier told reporters in Manila.
Sebastian, he said, now feared for his life.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre earlier said Sebastian would not want to testify at the Congressional hearing about the drug trade inside the penitentiary and was only willing to talk about the alleged food anomaly there.
Arriba said Sebastian also worries about his security.
Sebastian and two other high-profile inmates were injured in what was reported to be a riot inside Building No. 14 on Wednesday.
Sen. Leila de Lima claimed that the prison incident was instigated by the Duterte administration to persuade inmates to testify against her supposed involvement in the drug trade inside the national penitentiary.
De Lima said Sebastian and Herbert Colangco, who had testified in the House hearings, were rivals at the Bilibid.
Sebastian’s decision to speak up only to the President came after the prison riot, which also killed Tony Co, another high-profile inmate.
Arriba was also quoted as saying that Sebastian was not asking for either amnesty or government protection for spilling the beans.
“So the President will know there are no strings attached. He just wanted to help,” he said.
Arriba, however, said they would welcome it if Mr. Duterte would grant Sebastian immunity.
“We will leave it to the President,” he was quoted as saying.
But Mr. Duterte said what happened to Sebastian was “karma” and that the convict had “asked for it.”
“You asked for it. Be careful of what you wish for or what you want because you might get it…There’s always the comeuppance and the law of karma. That is a very valid universal statement,” he said. TVJ
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