Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Sunday said they may go as far as forcibly take Jaybee Sebastian from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to make sure that he will attend the next hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Justice. "Kung iyong sabi mo to forcibly bring him? 'Pag ayaw niyang sumunod ay malamang iyon ang gawin sa kanya. Kasi compulsary process iyon eh," Aguirre told radio dzBB in an interview. Aguirre clarified that the House committee has not issued a subpoena on Sebastian, who allegedly collected money from fellow high-profile inmates for Sen. Leila de Lima's candidacy in the last May elections.
"Actually hindi subpoena eh. Ako ang nire-require as head of the Department of Justice (DOJ) kaya parang kasi suspended ang political rights ng ilang prisoners eh so wala silang karapatan na tanggihan ang mga iyon," he said. The secretary also clarified that Sebastian is not a DOJ witness and he has no idea of what the high-profile inmate will say during the next hearing. He said the House committee hearing this week has been moved to October 5 because he was required by President Duterte to join the trip to Vietnam from September 27 to 30. Cross-examination Aguirre said that they have been asking Sebastian to execute an affidavit about his knowledge on the NBP drug trade. "'Di ako maaring mag-speculate. Dalawnag bagay ang puwedeng gawin niya: magsabi siya ng totoo o magsabi siya ng kasinungalingan," he said when asked about Sebastian's possible testimony. De Lima had said that Sebastian was a government asset, which Aguirre said was a "foolish" claim. During the next hearing, he said he would like to cross-examine Sebastian as he was confident that he can get something out from the high-profile inmate. "Kung ako ay papayagan na magtanong eh, sa cross-examination eh palagay ko makaka-contritube tayo kahit papaano para mapalabas ang katotohanan kay Sebastian," he said. He added that Sebastian may or may not boost the allegations of the other high-profile inmates that De Lima collected money from the proceeds of the drug trade inside the NBP. Aguirre has presented at least seven high-profile inmates during the last two hearings of the House committee.
He said that generally, the seven witnesses have implicated De Lima to the drug trade inside the national penitentiary. Meanwhile, Aguirre said that the DOJ may present a few more witnesses during the next hearing. He said other high-profile inmates may no longer be needed to appear, but they are only planning to present the former security escorts of De Lima, who was justice secretary during the six-year term of former President Benigno Aquino III. Expected to attend the next hearing is Joenel Sanchez, a former security aide of De Lima who allegedly acted as the senato's bagman. "Sa assessment ng lahat, including the leadership of the committee, ay malinaw na. Walang um-oppose na walang drugs dyan, walang um-oppose na nagsasabi na walang mga payola pero hindi ibig sabihin na proven na," he said.
Aguirre had also said that he will present the Anti-Money Laundering Council's report on certain bank accounts that may be connected to the NBP drug trade. He refused to give details of the report, which the DOJ received last week, but said that at least two of the accounts contained P300 million and P500 million. He said that the testimonies of the witnesses presented during the House committee hearing and the AMLC will also be used by the DOJ in the filing of charges against De Lima. Aguirre, meanwhile, said that they may not be able to file charges against De Lima soon because of the National Bureau of Investigation still has to pursue several leads. He, however, said that he is confident the charges may be filed before the end of the year.