DOJ to right-of-way scam suspect: Prove your innocence first
Prove your innocence first.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has advised a businesswoman implicated in the supposed P8.7-billion road right-of-way (ROW) scam to back up her claims against primary government witness Roberto Catapang.
Aguirre stood by Catapang’s allegations that Mercedita Dumlao belonged to a criminal syndicate that facilitated the payment for private properties utilized in road projects funded by the government in General Santos City using bogus land titles.
Last Friday, Dumlao submitted a letter of appeal urging the justice secretary to reconsider his decision to admit Catapang to the Witness Protection Program (WPP) of the Department of Justice.
“That’s their allegation. They should prove it (first),” Aguirre told reporters in a text message.
“As long as the WPP witness does not appear to be the most guilty, then we are right in (providing) witness protection,” he added.
Aguirre had previously said Catapang’s testimony may be used to pursue the criminal cases against individuals allegedly behind the scheme, among them former Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and former Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson.
The alleged whistleblower also tagged Eldon Cruz, the brother-in-law of former President Benigno Aquino III.
In her letter, Dumlao pointed to Catapang as the architect of the modus, accusing him of duping her of putting her money in the supposed ROW claims scam.
She also claimed that Catapang was involved in the drug trade in General Santos and other illegal activities involving huge amounts of money.
“Contrary to Mr. Catapang’s claim, I am one of the numerous persons victimized by his felonious modus and scheme,” read a portion of Dumlao’s letter.
“Also, I came to know that employing the same scheme, Mr. Catapang was able to gyp many unsuspecting people to entrust to him big amounts of money on the hope that their money would be doubled,” she said. /jpv