MANILA - Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday denied detained Senator Leila de Lima's allegation that the Department of Justice (DOJ) violated the law when it admitted at least 13 convicts as state witnesses in drug cases against her.
De Lima, herself a former justice chief, earlier filed multiple cases against Guevarra and former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II for allegedly violating provisions in the state's Witness Protection Program.
Under the law, state witnesses must not have been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.
"As far as I know, no convicted person has been used as a state witness under Rule 119 against Sen. de Lima," Guevarra told ABS-CBN News.
Guevarra has yet to see De Lima's complaint.
De Lima filed cases against her successors a day before a Quezon City court was scheduled to hear her separate disobedience to summons case.
In a statement from detention, De Lima asserted that it was wrong for the DOJ to turn the convicts as state witnesses "because the crimes they were convicted for involve moral turpitude."
"Guevarra has no excuse in not knowing the status of these criminal convicts as state witnesses under his witness protection program. His prosecutors are using them illegally as witnesses against me. His department granted them immunity illegally so they can testify against me," De Lima said.
"His agency illegally excluded them from the criminal charges filed against me, even if they are the ones who actually confessed to illegal drug trading, and should have been the first to be charged," she added.
De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City since February 2017 as she faced trial for alleged involvement in the drug trade inside the national penitentiary when she was still justice secretary.
She was indicted based on testimonies of several high-profile convicts.
- with a report from Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News