By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Leila De Lima on Tuesday alleged that President Duterte’s directive to transfer to the Marines headquarters at Fort Bonifacio the 10 high-profile convicts who testified against her in the illegal drug-related charges she is facing was to “prepare” them for their impending testimony before the Muntinlupa regional trial court (RTC).
In a statement sent from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center, where she id detained, De Lima labeled as “baloney” and “hilarious” the government’s explanation that “very special security reasons” pushed them to transfer the high-profile convicts to the Marines headquarters.
She thus laughed off the President’s public admission that the transfer of the convicts from the maximum-security area of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City was to ensure their safety.
“I view as highly suspicious the reported transfer of some NBP inmate-witnesses in my drug cases from the NBP’s maximum security compound to the Marines’ barracks in Taguig,” she said.
“For ‘very special security reasons’ raw because they are ‘witnesses to a certain case,’ meaning, the trumped-up drug cases against me. Are they implying that there’s a security threat coming from me? Baloney! Hilarious!” she added.
She described the illegal charges against her as the “grandest hoax” of all.
The transfer of high-profile convict-witnesses was discovered after several media outlets reported that dismissed Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Nicanor Faeldon signed an order transferring them to the Marines barracks.
Among them were Hans Anton Tan, Peter Co alias Wu Tuan Yuan, Jojo Baligad, Vicente Sy, Froilan Trestiza, Nonilo Arile, Chua Che Ket, Rico Caja, Joel Capones and Allan Senogat.
Of the 10 convicts, seven – Arile, Baligad, Sy, Tan, Trestiza, Co, and Capones – had testified against De Lima on her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trading inside the NBP during her tenure as Justice secretary.
Duterte publicly admitted he gave the directive to transfer these convict-witnesses because he fears that they might be killed by De Lima’s alleged allies inside the NBP.
The lady senator from Bicol pointed out, however, that she believes that the suspicious transfer was made to give her oppressors a chance to further “operate” on these convict-witnesses to ensure them to stick with their claims against her.
“I strongly suspect that the real reason is for my oppressors to further ‘operate’ on these convicts-witnesses, i.e., to further coach and coerce or pressure them to stick to their perjured testimonies. Tila walang katapusan ang kasamaan ng rehimen na ito!,” she said.
When she was Justice secretary during the presidency of Benigno ‘’Noynoy’’ Aquino III, De Lima led a series of raid inside NBP where she discovered and ended the luxurious lifestyles of high-profile convicted inmates who later on turned witnesses against her in the conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading charges she is now facing.
De Lima has reiterated that the trumped-up drug charges filed by the Duterte regime are part of a political vendetta for being the staunchest critic of the government’s bogus war against illegal drugs, extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses.
She has always maintained her innocence from these drug charges which were all based on manufactured evidence and perjured testimonies of convicted inmates who have an axe to grind for leading the investigation into their illegal activities inside NBP.