Nothing suspicious with Bilibid inmates’ request for clemency—solons
Lawmakers from the minority bloc in Congress said there was nothing suspicious with the request of executive clemency of five convicts who testified against Senator Leila De Lima in the House probe on the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
In a press conference, the minority bloc of lawmakers led by Minority Floor Leader Danilo “Danny” Suarez was asked for their reaction to the revelation of Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano about five of 12 inmates who sought executive clemency during the previous administration.
ABS Rep. Eugene De Vera said the five convicts deserve to be granted executive clemency for good behavior in their bid to spill the secrets of the drug trade.
“Kung may kapalit, may problema tayo dun. Pero if nagsasabi sila ng totoo, dapat lang na ma-reward sila. Baka (If they are asking for something in return, we have a problem there. But if they are telling the truth, they should be given a reward. Perhaps) it’s part of good behavior,” De Vera said.
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said the convicts’ request for clemency does not mean it was related to the House investigation.
“Hindi nangangahulugan na ito (It doesn’t mean it) is related to the investigation, unless the dates of application were within the past two months. That’s suspicious,” Atienza said.
The convicts’ requests were made during the administration of former President Benigno Aquino III, but it is still pending under the current administration of President Rodrgo Duterte.
Atienza said he does not think it is in the nature of Duterte to grant convicts clemency as a reward for testifying against De Lima, who sought a Senate investigation into the President’s involvement in the extrajudicial killings of drug criminals when he was still Dava City mayor.
“I don’t think he would do that. There is no bearing whatsoever dun sa mga papeles na yun (in the documents)… Nag-apply sila (for clemency), that’s their right at ginagawa naman talaga yun (They applied for clemency, that’s their right and it’s normal). Hindi naman inaksyunan nung nakaraan, lalo nang hindi aaksyunan ng presidente yan (It wasn’t acted upon during the past administration, the President won’t likely to act on it, too),” Atienza said.
In a press briefing Tuesday, De Lima’s ally Alejano revealed that the following witnesses against the senators sought executive clemency, based on the letter from the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP):
- Engelberto Durano—Carpeta requested Oct. 27, 2015
- Nonilo Arile—Carpeta requested Jan. 25, 2011
- Jaime Patcho—Carpeta returned to the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) on April 15, 2016 as requested by the BuCor
- Jojo Baligad—For verification of pending criminal cases per his record with the National Bureau of Investigation
- Vicente Sy—for verification of other pending cases
Carpeta refers to the institutional record of an inmate.
The letter was signed by the BPP Executive Director Reynaldo Bayang.
“In the case of probation, our Office is not competent to answer your query as it falls under the jurisdiction of the Parole and Probation Administration,” the letter to Alejano read.
Meanwhile, the other witnesses against De Lima have no pending application for pardon or executive clemency—Rodolfo Magleo, Herbert Colanggo, Noel Martinez, Froilan Trestiza, Hans Tan, Jaybee Sebastian and Peter Co.
Sebastian was alleged to be De Lima’s favored drug lord who led the drug monopoly to raise campaign funds for the senator when she was Justice Secretary. Co, on the other hand, was another Chinese drug lord who allegedly delivered campaign funds to De Lima.
Alejano said the inmates at the Bilibid who testified against De Lima were all polluted witnesses.
“I still maintained that these are polluted witnesses. They are forced to testify… Kung magsinungaling sila, hindi na sila natatakot makulong kasi kulong na sila (They could lie and not be afraid to be jailed because they are already in prison). Out of the 12 inmates, five of them have pending applications for pardon or executive clemency,” Alejano said.
The convicts have been granted immunity from suit by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in so far as their testimonies were concerned.
The list of convicts who sought clemency is led by Sy, the Chinese drug lord who was accused of having an affair with sexy actress Rosanna Roces, an accusation the latter vehemently denied.
Sy earlier admitted giving bribes to Bilibid officials in order to get preferential treatment from behind bars.
Durano, a former police official, testified that De Lima allegedly received P1.5 million from slain drug lord Jeffrey Diaz alias “Jaguar,” the top drug lord in Central Visayas, through her former driver and purported lover Ronnie Dayan.
Durano is also said to be a relative of De Lima’s mortal enemy Duterte, whom the senator investigated in the Senate hearing for his alleged involvement in the spate of extrajudicial killings of drug pushers. The Senate committee on justice and human rights now chaired by Senator Richard Gordon cleared the President of accountability.
Meanwhile, a former Manila policeman Arile claimed that Sebastian set up fellow drug lords to earn De Lima’s trust.
Patcho, leader of the Commando Gang, testified that Sebastian talked to him for help in raising campaign funds for De Lima.
Patcho also testified he saw De Lima at least twice in the Bilibid heading to the kubol of Sebastian.
Lastly, Baligad, a murder convict, testified that De Lima received P1.5 million from another alleged Bilibid drug lord Colanggo as her share in the purported drug trade.
Baligad also admitted paying a weekly payoff to Bilibid officials—National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director General and then BuCor officer in charge Rafael Ragos and a certain Col. Elie from the office of succeeding BuCor director Franklin Bucayu.
Bucayu and Ragos have denied receiving payoffs from the drug trade. RAM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.