Freedom and P100 million have been offered to high-profile inmates of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to recant their testimonies against Senator Leila de Lima over her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs at the national penitentiary, Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II revealed yesterday.
The secretary said that the offer was made to eight high-profile Bilibid inmates currently being held at the Custodial Center of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City. The conversation, according to him, was heard through a speaker phone.
Aguirre learned that the recantation of their testimonies should be made before the EDSA People Power Anniversary on February 25 so as to spark another mass revolt, this time against President Duterte.
“Ang kanila it has to be the retraction has to be made before the 25th,” Aguirre told reporters at the sidelines of GOJUST launch event at the Manila Hotel yesterday morning.
“Significance is that they wanted to use this to attract more people sa EDSA anniversary para magkaroon ng people power daw,” he cited.
Because of this, the secretary said that he will file charges against those who made the offer to the high-profile inmates.
“We are going to bring a complaint against them because that it is illegal, that is immoral, that is a crime,” the DoJ chief stressed.
Asked to identify the two lawmakers, Aguirre said he would rather that media practitioners hear it from “the horses” mouth (inmates).
“Ihahahanda ko yung mga eight inmates who are going to confirm this, that they rejected it, and that it was offered to them this morning,” he said.
The inmates who have testified against de Lima were Herbert Colanggo, Engelbert Acenas Dureno, Vicente Sy, Jojo Baliga and Wu Tuan Yuan, alias Peter Co.
They have been excluded from the drug charges filed by DoJ against de Lima and several others before the Muntinlupa RTC.
The secretary found out that the first offer was made Wednesday afternoon when they received a call and spoke through the speaker of a mobile phone.
“It was made by a former Senator and an incumbent Congressman of the Liberal Party in the Province of Laguna,” Aguirre bared.
“The second offer was made through Clarence Dongail, another Bilibid inmate incarcerated at the AFP Custodial Center this morning (February 23). In both instances, the inmates said no,” he said.
During hearings conducted last year by the House of Representatives Committee on Justice in its inquiry on the proliferation of illegal drugs at the NBP, the high-profile inmates testified that they gave millions of pesos to De Lima to fund her campaign in exchange for protection and for allowing them to enjoy lavish lifestyles while in prison. (JEFFREY G. DAMICOG & MARIO B. CASAYURAN)