More witnesses lined up vs De Lima in House probe

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2016 09:16 PM

MANILA – Three more witnesses are set to testify in a House probe on the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs in the national penitentiary under the watch of then-Justice Secretary Leila de Lima.

The witnesses, New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmates Joel Capones, German Agojo, and Jerry Pepino, are lawyer Ferdie Topacio's clients, and will corroborate previous witnesses' testimonies on De Lima's alleged role in the illicit prison drug trade.

Capones, who has not yet testified, will support accounts that cash amounting to P18 million was deposited in a bank account for De Lima, Topacio said.

"Sasabihin din niya bilang patunay ni JB Sebastian na kinakatawan niya si Sec. De Lima (He will talk about JB Sebastian's involvement with De Lima)," Topacio said.

He will also reveal the name the bank account was under, Topacio said.

Agojo, meanwhile, will talk about drug money allegedly poured into to De Lima's campaign fund.

"Si Agojo naman ang kaniyang total na naibigay diumano para sa campaign fund ni Senator De Lima, P16 million. Eto, short sa quota na P20 million kaya siya pinatapon din sa NBI (Agojo allegedly gave Senator De Lima P16 million for her campaign funds, but as he fell short of the P20 million quota, she had him thrown to the NBI)," said Topacio.

According to Topacio, Pepino will corroborate the P5 million monthly quota set by De Lima.

Some of his clients already have pending applications for parole, Topacio said.

Capones, Agojo, and Pepino’s testimonies come in the wake of the appearances of Noel Martinez and Herbert Colanggo at the House probe, which have been labeled by De Lima as a "sham" aiming to discredit her.

Earlier on ANC's Headstart, Justice Committee Chairman Rey Umali said that the House panel is looking at summoning persons linked to De Lima in the next inquiry—JB Sebastian, Jonel Sanchez and Ronnie Dayan. 

Sebastian was allegedly the inmate who recruited other inmate witnesses to sell drugs to finance De Lima's senatorial candidacy. Dayan, on the other hand, was De Lima's driver who also supposedly received protection money for De Lima. 

"We have actually already agreed to issue a subpoena. When this will happen still is hanging, as you very well know, next week will be the start of plenary budget deliberations,” Umali said.

Umali defended his committee from criticisms after the cellphone number and address of De Lima were made public during the hearing. He maintained it came out in the testimony of the witness and no one objected since only De Lima, who was not present at the hearing, could have done so.

In a text message, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez appeared satisfied at the progress of the committee’s investigation. It was "very revealing, factual, objective and truthful," he said.