Drug lords, high-profile inmates to testify vs De Lima

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — On Thursday, Sen. Leila de Lima presented a witness who linked President Rodrigo Duterte to multiple killings by the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS).

Edgar Matobato, a self-proclaimed former assassin of the dreaded group, claimed the President ordered the gruesome murders of about a thousand when he was still mayor.

Related: House readies to probe De Lima's alleged past drug link at Bilibid

But this week, it will be De Lima on the chopping board.

Drug lords as witnesses

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said on Friday 12 inmates would testify against De Lima in a hearing at the House of Representatives, which is investigating the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).

Among them are convicted drug lords Herbert Colangco and Noel Martinez.

Colangco and Martinez are part of high-profile inmates tagged as Bilibid 19. De Lima had ordered the transfer of these prisoners to Building 14 of the maximum security compound, where high-risk criminals in the penitentiary are detained.

Aguirre said there would also be other witnesses from other penal colonies.  All of them have prepared affidavits.

"Isisiwalat nila pagdating sa hearing sa House 'yung pangungulekta dun ng pera para suportahan at ibigay kay De Lima sa kanyang pagtakbo sa pagka-Senador," Aguirre said.

[Translation: They will divulge how money was collected to bankroll De Lima's senatorial run.]

Safety of witnesses

Aguirre said the witnesses would be transferred to the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) for security reasons.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has favourably acted on Aguirre's request to provide space for inmates.

"BuCor will be responsible for the transportation, logistics, and resources involved in the transfer of inmates. BuCor personnel will have custody over them while in detention," Lorenzana explained.

₱5 million drug money

Aguirre revealed there were also high-ranking officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) who will tell congressmen at the hearing that they delivered at least ₱5 million in drug money to De Lima's house in Parañaque.

"Yan ay ni-receive ng personal ni De Lima at nandun din si Ronnie Dayan," he said. [That was personally received by De Lima and Ronnie Dayan was also present there.]

Related: Duterte: De Lima affair with driver 'gave rise' to NBP corruption

Unlike Matobato, Aguirre said their witnesses were credible.

"Di katulad ni Matobato na very clear na coached witness. Yan hindi ka maaring mag coach ng 12 testigo... Nagkaka-ugnay o nagkakatugma-tugma yung kanilang sinasabi."

[Translation: Unlike Mobato, who was clearly coached, you cannot coach this group of 12 witnesses because their testimonies are linked and corroborative of each other's.]

'De Lima visits drug lord'

Aguirre also claimed De Lima went to the NBP eight times when she was Justice Secretary.

He said, "Wala siyang dinadaanan. Diretso siya agad dun sa kubol ni Jaybee Sebastian. Mga walong beses at naka-kwan pa siya eh naka-disguise."

[Translation: She goes straight to the cell of Jaybee Sebastian. About eight times, while she was in disguise.]

Related: De Lima on Duterte's claims: Bits of truth - but mostly lies

In July, Solicitor General Jose Calida showed photos of Sebastian, a convicted drug lord, with De Lima.

"Alam naman natin kung sinong pusher — head ng bawat gang di ba? Eh inorderan yan ni Sebastian na sila ay magbenta ng mga 20, 30 kilos a month para nga makaipon ng pondo na gagamitin ni Secretary De Lima sa kanyang eleksyon pagtakbo ng pagka-senador," Aguirre said.

[Translation: We know who the pushers are, who heads each gang, right? Sebastian ordered them to sell 20 to 30 kilos a month so they can raise funds for De Lima's senatorial candidacy.]

Aguirre said there would be "explosive" revelations at the hearing next week.

De Lima no longer surprised

But De Lima is not impressed. She says this only shows how "evil and desperate" her critics are.

"That simply means nakakakuha na sila ng mga (they were able to get)false/perjured witnesses. I'm not surprised anymore since, as I said before, I was warned already about their evil design and insidious moves, such as fabrication of evidence," De Lima says.