PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte admitted Friday, September 6, that he was behind the transfer of 10-high profile inmates, including some who testified against detained Senator Leila de Lima, from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City to the Philippine Marines in Taguig City.
In a speech delivered in Naga City, Cebu, Duterte said he ordered the transfer of the high-profile inmates to ensure their safety and security, as he claimed that De Lima still has lackeys at the national penitentiary.
“Unya naay issue nga naay uban, wa nako ipapreso ngadto sa penitentiary - Muntinlupa. Gipabalhin nako dira sa Marines. And there are issues being raised that I didn’t send some to prison, the penitentiary - Muntinlupa. I handed them over to the Marines,” the President said.
“Ngano? Tungod kay nahadlok ko nga naa pay daghang bata-bata si De Lima nga nabilin diha ug kanang mga testigo sa pag-kontra niya og naa diha, ihawon gyud na. Sa pag-abot og panahon, wa na’y muistorya sa tinood (Why? Because I was scared that De Lima would have more henchmen and witnesses. They will really be killed. By then no one would be able to tell the truth.),” he added.
Duterte’s statement came following reports that fired Bureau of Corrections director general Nicanor Faeldon approved on June 12 the transfer of 10 “high risk” and “high profile” inmates from the NBP’s maximum security compound to a detention facility at the Philippine Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown.
One of the inmates reportedly moved to the Marines’ barracks is convicted drug lord Peter Co who testified against De Lima’s supposed drug links during her stint at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Other convicts who testified against De Lima and are also now under the custody of the Philippine Marines are Hans Anton Tan, Jojo Baligad, Vicente Sy, Froilan Trestiza, Nonilo Arile and Joel Capones.
The three other inmates transferred to the Marines barracks are Chue Che Ket, Rico Caja, and Allan Senogat.
Duterte revealed that he had pardoned or commuted the sentences of some of the convicts whom he failed to identify.
“So abot... Sultihan ta mo. Ako na. Ako’y gasugo ana. Naa pud ko’y gipardon. Naa pud ko’y gi sentence. It’s given in the Constitution. The power to commute and to pardon is absolute. My discretion lang,” he said.
(I’m telling you now. It was me. I was the one who gave the orders. There were people whom I pardoned and there were those whom I sentenced to... It’s given in the Constitution. The power to commute and to pardon is absolute. It’s just my discretion.)
“Nganong mga tawhana gipagawas nako, gi-pardon nako? Ako na na. You do not question because the Constitution says it is an absolute power. Wala'y labot ang Congress, walay labot ang...,” the Chief Executive added.
(Did I release them or pardon them? That’s mine. You do not question because the Constitution says it is an absolute power. It doesn’t involve the Congress.)
De Lima has been detained at Camp Crame in Quezon City since February 24. 2017 for her supposed involvement in the proliferation of drug trade in the national penitentiary when she was the head of the DOJ.
The tiff between Duterte and De Lima began when the former Justice secretary had linked him to the vigilante group Davao Death Squad when she was the chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights.
Duterte was further irked after De Lima instigated a Senate inquiry into thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings attributed to the President’s crackdown on illegal drugs. (SunStar Philippines)