Duterte admits to ordering transfer of witnesses vs De Lima from Bilibid to Fort Bonifacio

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 6) — President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday he ordered the transfer of ten high-profile inmates who testified against incarcerated Senator Leila de Lima's alleged involvement in illegal drugs from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to the Marine's barracks in Taguig.

Duterte said that this is because De Lima still had allies inside the state penitentiary who could pose a threat to the lives of the inmates.

"Naay issue na naay uban wa nako ipapreso adto sa penitentiary, Muntinlupa, gipabalhin nako diha sa Marines. Ngano? Tungod kay nahadlok ko na naa pay daghang bata-bata si De Lima na nabilin diha ug kanang mga testigos mag-kontra ug naa diha ihawon gyud na. Pag-abot ug panahon wala nay mag-isturya ug tinood," he said in a speech in Naga, Cebu.

[Translation: There's an issue that I did not allow some prisoners to be incarcerated in the penitentiary, Muntinlupa. I had them transferred to the Marines. Why? Because I was afraid that De Lima still has men there, and if they testify they will be killed. A time may come where no one will say the truth. ]

He added that he had some convicts pardoned or have their sentences commuted, but he did not give names. He said that this is based on his Constitutional power as President.

"The power to commute and to pardon is absolute my discretion lang. Ngano mga taohana gipagawas, gi-pardon nako? Ako na na. You do not question because the Constitution says it is an absolute power," Duterte said.

[Translation: The power to commute and to pardon is up to my discretion only. Why were there people that were released, pardoned? That's on me. ]

He said that it is because he saw that some of them deserved to be released. He would not say why.

"My power so I will not questions why," the President said.

A document dated June 12 prepared by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Senior Inspector Chief Raymund Peneyra and approved by now-sacked BuCor Director General Nicanor Faeldon was obtained by CNN Philippines on Friday.

The order transferred 10 "high risk" and "high profile" inmates from NBP's maximum security compund to the Philippine Marine Barracks Rudiardo Brown in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

These inmates include Peter Co, Hans Anton Tan, Jojo Baligad, Vicente Sy, Froilan Trestiza, Nonilo Arile and Joel Capones, who all testified against De Lima on her supposed drug links.

Other inmates transferred to the Marines barracks are Chua Che Ket, Rico Caja and Allan Senogat.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, commenting on the transfer of the ten high-profile inmates, earlier Friday told reporters he saw “nothing irregular about that for as long as court approval is secured because sentenced prisoners na ‘yan. So any movement would have to be monitored by the court."  It is not clear if the transfer was covered by a court order.

READ: Some witnesses vs De Lima now out of Bilibid, document shows.