MANILA - A convicted kidnapper said Wednesday he was not being forced testify before a congressional hearing that Senator Leila de Lima received kickbacks from the illegal drug trade.
Contrary to De Lima's allegation, Froilan Trestiza said he was not moved to an isolation cell to pressure him to turn against the senator.
Trestiza told lawmakers he was doing well since being moved in 2013 to the Zamboanga City penal farm, where he is helping reform fellow inmates.
"Kung tutuusin maayos po ang aking katayuan doon, ako po ay boluntaryo na nakilahok sa imbestigasyon na ito upang isiwalat ang matagal ko nang naiintindihan na kabulastugan na pinaggagawa ni Rafael Marcos Ragos hanggang sa sinasabi nga na may kinalaman si Sec. De Lima sa lahat din ng pangyayari sa amin," he said.
[I was actually doing well there but I voluntarily participated in this investigation in order to reveal what I understand to be anomalous transactions being done by Rafael Marcos Ragos and Sec. De Lima]
Ragos is the former head of the Bureau of Corrections.
De Lima claimed to have insider information that inmates were being tortured to corroborate President Rodrigo Duterte's claim that her senatorial campaign was funded with drug money.
Like previous witnesses, Trestiza testified that he was recruited to shell out money for De Lima while he was detained at the New Bilibid Prison between 2011 and 2013. De Lima was secretary of justice at that time.
He said a certain Danilo Rico Martinez had introduced himself to be a "consultant" of De Lima.
"Dalawang beses po sinabi ni Martinez sa akin na dadating sa NBP si Secretary De Lima at dalawang beses din ito nangyari, kung kaya't naniwala ako na talagang malapit siya kay secretary," he said.
[In at least two instances, Martinez told me that De Lima would come to the NBP and both times it happened so I believe he was close to the secretary]
Trestiza said Martinez would collect P10,000 or P20,000 from him and other gang leaders three times a month.
The biggest amount allegedly collected from him was P200,000 in exchange for his transfer to the maximum security compound, which he was told only De Lima could order.