House probe on Bilibid drugs has no ‘legislative purpose’ — priest

Witness Edgar Motabato appears before the Senate Committee on Justice's probe on the alleged rampant extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected criminals. (MNS photo)

Witness Edgar Motabato appears before the Senate Committee on Justice’s probe on the alleged rampant extrajudicial killings and summary executions of suspected criminals. (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) — A Catholic priest and law school dean on Thursday said the congressional probe into the supposed proliferation of drugs at the national penitentiary had no clear legislative purpose.

San Beda Graduate School of Law dean Fr. Ranhilio Aquino said the inquiry of the House of Representatives was seemingly aimed at discrediting Sen. Leila de Lima, who is being accused of coddling drug lords in the New Bilibid Prison during her stint as justice secretary in exchange for payoffs to fund her senatorial campaign.

“I do not know what is the real purpose, very unusual, very unprocedural. I did not see a clear legislative purpose, what I saw is clear discrediting De Lima. If you say in aid of legislation, make it clear ano ba talaga ang binabalak niyong ipasang batas (what legislation are you planning to file)?” Aquino said in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas.

“Saan na ang pagkakaiba ng (Where is the difference among) personal knowledge, ng opinion, ng conjecture at (and) hearsay? Pinagsama-sama (They combined all these things) and the worst thing is if the ordinary Filipinos listen, they did not study the evidence,” he added.

Aquino also raised doubts over the granting of immunity from suit to the inmates who testified against De Lima, noting that the testimony of a confessed hitman at the Senate last week was “equally important” as the convicts’ claims.

“The big question is they were so eagerly granting immunity and yet the testimony that Matobato had in Senate is equally important,” the priest said, referring to witness Edgar Matobato, who said he was a member of the infamous Davao Death Squad and linked President Rodrigo Duterte to over a thousand of killings in his hometown Davao City.

The Senate leadership refused to grant protective custody to Matobato.

High-profile inmates and De Lima’s former subordinates alleged that she allowed the flow of drugs and other contraband items in the major facility and received kickbacks for her campaign kitty. The senator has denied the allegations, saying the witnesses were forced, blackmailed or tortured to testify against her.

De Lima, who has become the President’s staunchest critic, initiated the Senate probe on the spate of alleged extrajudicial killings in the country amid the administration’s bloody war on drugs. (MNS)

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