MANILA – Senator Leila de Lima on Friday slammed Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre for his supposed belated reaction to the alleged restoration of perks and privileges to Bilibid inmates who testified against her in a congressional hearing.
A confidential memorandum dated December 9, 2016 and signed by Bureau of Corrections Legal Office chief Alvin Herrera Lim revealed that inmates detained in the Armed Forces Custodial and Detention Center "continue to enjoy lavish lifestyles e.g. use of electronic gadgets, smart television sets, air conditioning units, internet, cellular phones."
In a statement, De Lima noted that Aguirre and BuCor chief Benjamin Delos Santos have not denied the existence of the memorandum.
“That means genuine yung mga docs na yan. One indication is – Sec. Aguirre himself and even BuCor Dir. Gen. De los Santos have not denied the existence of those docs, especially the December 9 confidential memo as attached to the December 15 memo of De Los Santos to Aguirre,” De Lima said.
De Lima said Aguirre’s supposed belated order of an investigation to the alleged giving of perks and privileges to the inmates is suspicious since the confidential memorandum was also forwarded to his desk.
“Bakit ngayon lang sya nag-uutos na imbestigahan yang mga kontrabando na yan? Those docs speak for themselves...But then again, how can we expect Aguirre to investigate himself! As I see it, it's possible that they concealed or suppressed those docs as the facts disclosed therein, especially the Dec 9 confidential Memo, are very sensitive as they are explosive," she said.
"So sino ngayon ang mga tunay na protector and coddler of drug convicts/drug lords!”
In his December 9 memo, Lim said the Philippine National Police and BuCor elements invoked that they "are just following the express instruction of the Hon. Vitaliano N. Aguirre II to allow the entry of the above-enumerated gadgets in return for the testimony they gave during the congressional inquiry on the proliferation of drugs inside New Bilibid Prison."
In a DZMM interview, Aguirre said the confidential memo should not have been released.
"This is a violation of confidentiality...Kapag may premature release, there is criminal liability on who released it," he said.
He also denied that he issued any memo allowing the granting of privileges to the inmates who testified against De Lima.
"Wala naman pong memo. Waa naman akong natatandaan na memo. Kung may memo, bakit di pa ilabas? Bakit installment ang press release?”
The inmates transferred to the AFP detention center earlier testified in a congressional inquiry and said De Lima, as justice secretary, received drug money from them. A portion of the money was supposedly used to fund De Lima's senatorial bid, something that the senator has denied.