Bribe offer to drug convicts ‘bum steer’
Former Sen. Jamby Madrigal and Biñan City Rep. Marlyn Alonte-Naguiat on Friday denied accusations by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II that they were behind the alleged P100-million bribe attempt to high-profile inmates in exchange for retracting their statements against Sen. Leila de Lima.
Madrigal, who was abroad, said Aguirre’s accusations were “baseless, malicious and outright lies” and demanded an apology from the justice secretary for linking her to what she described as another “bum steer.”
In a statement, she denied having met or being related by blood to Lalaine Madrigal Martinez, whom she had supposedly approached to offer the bribe.
Martinez is reportedly the wife of convicted kidnapper and drug lord Noel Martinez, who implicated De Lima in the New Bilibid Prison drug trade.
“I have been living the life of a quiet citizen far removed from the political mudslinging Mr. Aguirre apparently enjoys,” Madrigal said.
“If he did not make up these lies himself then someone in his staff is feeding them to him. Either that or, simply because the name of the wife of an alleged drug lord was Madrigal-Martinez, Mr. Aguirre suddenly believed I was somehow implicated,” she said.
Naguiat, for her part, said she does not “subscribe to illegal acts and I will never participate in efforts to undermine the truth.”
“What’s in it for me?” Naguiat said in a briefing at her district office.
Naguiat said she only knew De Lima through the Liberal Party (LP). “(De Lima) texted me once to greet me on my birthday but that’s just it,” she said.
But Naguiat has admitted to being close to the younger sister of former President Benigno Aquino III, actress Kris. The elder Aquino is a member of the LP.
The lawmaker’s husband, Steve, is a distant cousin of former Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Chair Cristino “Bong” Naguiat Jr., a close friend of the former president.
In an interview with dzMM Friday morning before De Lima’s arrest, the justice secretary said Madrigal and Naguiat gave the high-profile inmates who testified against the senator until Feb. 25 to retract their claims.
He said De Lima’s allies were planning to use the retractions to lure people into joining a People Power movement against the government.
“If there will be a People Power revolution, the high-profile inmates will be freed. That was the promise,” he said.
Meanwhile, five drug lords from the New Bilibid Prison were allegedly whisked out of the Armed Forces custodial center and taken to the National Bureau of Investigation on Thursday, the same day a Muntinlupa court issued an arrest warrant against De Lima.
Sources from the Department of Justice said the move was in connection with Aguirre’s revelation that P100 million was offered to the drug lords for them to recant their statements against De Lima.
Inquirer called and texted Aguirre to clarify the report but he did not answer. NBI director Dante Gierran also refused to be interviewed.
The sources named the inmates as Herbert Colongaco, Rodolfo Magleo, Engelbert Durano, Edgar Cinco and Clarence Dongail.
They were allegedly brought to the NBI at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
There were conflicting reports, however, about their current whereabouts.
Aguirre was quoted in reports as saying that the inmates were currently detained at the NBI, while some NBI sources said they were taken back to the AFP custodial center at 2:30 a.m. on Friday. WITH REPORTS FROM MAILA AGER, CHRISTINE O. AVENDAÑO, MARICAR CINCO, JULIE M. AURELIO AND AIE BALAGTAS SEE
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