Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday said they have been gathering witnesses and evidence to find out if his predecessor, Sen. Leila De Lima, and other personalities allowed the proliferation of drug syndicates in the New Bilibid Prison under her watch.
“We are gathering evidence and witnesses pursuant to our investigation as to why illegal drugs proliferated at the NBP,” Aguirre said in a text message to GMA News Online.
Early this month, Aguirre disclosed that at least two former Justice officials from the Aquino administration, along with religious personnel and NBP officials, are being probed for their alleged complicity in the drug trade inside the national penitentiary, where the country’s top drug lords are locked up.
Aguirre has refused to single out De Lima as the focus of the fact-finding investigation, saying their goal is to know why the illegal drug trade flourished at NBP and who should be held accountable.
But no less than President Rodrigo Duterte accused De Lima of receiving drug money from the NBP by using her driver-bodyguard to deal with drug lords–an allegation the senator dismissed as character assassination following her criticism of extrajudicial killings of drug suspects under the new administration.
Insisting on her innocence, De Lima even declared over the weekend that she was willing to resign as senator and be shot in front of Duterte if her drug links are proven true.
The House of Representatives is also preparing its investigation into De Lima’s alleged involvement in illegal drugs but congressmen said she cannot be compelled to attend the hearing due to parliamentary courtesy.