Thursday, May 23, 2019

Former Justice undersecretary Baraan has left PH

MANILA (Updated) -- Former Department of Justice (DOJ) undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, who was linked by President Rodrigo Duterte to the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, left the country last August.

His eldest son Francis Frank Baraan IV bared this in a post in his Twitter account.

"My father, former Justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan III left the country for health and medical reasons, on August 25, 2016, which is many days before the day the House of Representatives began its probe on the alleged drug trade inside the Bilibid, and days before President Dutere himself tagged him in his drug matrix, in one of his presscon," Francis said.

The younger Baraan said that leaving the country is not a crime -- "not if you’re not a fugitive of a law, or a person of interest."

He noted that his father was unaware that there would be a House of Representatives probe into the proliferation of illegal drugs in the Bilibid and that he would be asked to appear in the ongoing inquiry.

"My Dad, Usec Baraan, no longer wishes to comment on any of the allegations or issues raised against him in public. However, he has asked me to speak on his behalf regarding this particular matter. Rest assured, he isn’t running away from anything or avoiding any possible prosecution," he said.

"He would face all allegations and issues against him in a real court of law -- not in a court of 'trial by publicity' -- if and when somebody actually files formal complaint against him," he added.

The former DOJ official was supervising undersecretary of the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) during the Aquino administration. He was named by Duterte as among those allegedly conspiring with Senator Leila de Lima in the illicit drug trade inside the NBP.

Also tagged by the President was Baraan's brother and Pangasinan Provincial Administrator Rafael Baraan, former Pangasinan governor and now Representative Amado Espino, and Board Member Raul Sison.

Duterte, though, issued a public apology on September 27 for naming Rafael Baraan, Espino and Sison, saying "somehow we were negligent in the counterchecking."

"Espino, Sison, Usec. Baraan's brother, I would like to apologize to you publicly. I am sorry," said the President.

Although not among those cleared by Duterte, former undersecretary Baraan vehemently denied the allegation also raised by high-profile inmate Herbert Colanggo during the inquiry of the House of Representatives on the proliferation of illegal drugs trade in NBP.

Colanggo said that Baraan got money from inmate transfers.

"Halimbawa meron akong tao na gusto kong ibalik sa maximum, babayaran si Baraan ng P500,000 para maibalik yung inmate sa maximum (For example, I will pay Baraan P500,000 if I want an inmate transferred to the maximum security compound)," Colanggo said.

But the former DOJ official said: "Colanggo's claim is a complete nonsense. I challenge him to produce any document that shows I approved any transfer of inmate/s within the Bilibid compound." (PNA/Sunnex)

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