A congressman called the testimonies of the Bilibid inmates against Senator Leila De Lima as hearsay evidence in an attempt to link De Lima to the illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary. During the second day of the House of Representatives justice committee inquiry over the proliferation of drugs at the national penitentiary on Wednesday, Siquijor Rep. Ramon Rocamora grilled murder convict Hans Anton Tan about the latter’s attempt to link De Lima to the drug trade through her supposed nephew Jose Adrian Dera. Tan said Dera was De Lima’s nephew who received millions of drug money from drug lord Peter Co in the run-up to De Lima’s senatorial campaign.
Rocamora asked Tan if he personally knew that Dera works as De Lima’s security. Tan said he only knew about this from Solicitor General Jose Calida when the latter visited the Bilibid two months ago. Rocamora also asked another witness Jaime Patcho how he came to know that kidnap convict Jaybee/JB Sebastian was raising campaign funds for De Lima through the Bilibid trade. Patcho said it was Sebastian who told him he was raising funds for De Lima. Rocamora then dismissed the witnesses’ testimonies as “hearsay” because these were based on second-hand information and not personal knowledge.
“Actually, I need to ask the other witnesses but basically it is of the same nature that these statements connecting Leila De Lima to these activities, they appear to be hearsay,” Rocamora said. In response, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre denied the evidence against De Lima was hearsay. Aguirre insisted that there was probable cause to hail De Lima to court, maintaining his plan to file a complaint against De Lima for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and the Revised Penal Code before the Office of the Ombudsman.
“Kami ay magsasampa ng kaso. Medyo kakailangan ng tulong niyo (We will file a case. We need your help). We have to continue our case build-up regarding the production of documentary evidence,” Aguirre said. “’Yan pong (sinasabi) ng mga kasama niyo na many are hearsay, hindi po totoo ‘yun… ‘Yung mga nakalap namin sa investigation na ito, more than enough to establish probable cause,” he added. (What you’re saying that many of these are hearsay, that’s not true… What we’ve gathered in this investigation, it’s more than enough to establish probable cause.) Aguirre said he is still waiting for a favorable response from the Anti-Money Laundering Council to help the DOJ in investigating De Lima’s bank accounts for possible drug money. During the two-day congressional inquiry, Aguirre presented high-profile convicts such as Herbert Colangco, and National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director General Rafael Ragos, who accused De Lima of earning millions of pesos from the drug trade operated by her favored drug lord JB/Jaybee Sebastian. JE