MANILA (Mabuhay) — Former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III has denied President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim that he is involved in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
“All I can say now is that this is something I totally cannot imagine myself being involved in; it contradicts the deepest Christian values I hold dear. I know myself, and in due time the truth will prevail,” Baraan said in a statement.
In a chance interview in Malacañang, Duterte said his friend, a governor, and an undersecretary are included in a matrix of the illegal drug operations at the prison complex in Muntinlupa City. He later named the undersecretary as Baraan.
The President said former Justice secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima was the highest public official included in the matrix.
Baraan said he is prepared to face the possible complaint that may be filed against him based on Duterte’s pronouncement.
“I respect our President, but I am powerless before him. All I ask is fairness and due process, a chance to vindicate myself in a formal proceeding. If a complaint will be filed, so then I will have the opportunity to present my side,” he said.
Duterte said that he has directed law enforcement agencies to validate the matrix before he makes any formal statements.
The President had previously released names of public officials allegedly involved in drugs.
Charges are being prepared against police officials who allegedly protected drug personalities.
In his statement, Baraan explained how he could not be involved in the drugs operations at the prison complex, which is allegedly being run by high-profile inmates.
One clarification, though. The Bureau of Corrections is just one of several DOJ agencies under my limited administrative supervision ( e.g., Board of Pardons and Parole, Parole and Probations Administration, Office of the General Corporate Counsel, etc.),” he said.
He added that his “typical day” in the Department of Justice was to sign papers concerning the Bureau of Corrections, which has supervision over the national penitentiary.
“…folders of Bucor contracts/documents on my desk endorsed and reviewed by our Technical Services, with the latter’s corresponding recommendation, are reviewed by me, then I countersign the action document for the Secretary’s final signature,” he said. “That takes just a few minutes. Then, for Bucor my task is done that day.” (