JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II linked the Liberal Party to the stabbing of inmate Jaybee Sebastian, allegedly to keep him from testifying against Senator Leila de Lima, who has been accused of taking money from drug lords jailed in the New Bilibid Prison.
The inmate who stabbed Sebastian on Sept. 28, 2016, Tomas Doniña, mentioned the LP in his five-page confession and implicated De Lima and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, Aguirre said.
In his affidavit dated Oct. 8, 2016 but released by the Justice Department only on Wednesday, Doniña said the order to kill Sebastian came from a former fellow officer in the Navy whom he did not name.
He said his contact claimed to be talking with Trillanes throughout their plan.
Doniña said he was also told that De Lima and Trillanes have joined forces to silence Sebastian, and mentioned the LP as well.
“Because Jaybee Sebastian and I have no personal grudge against each other, I advised him not to betray ma’am De Lima. At first, he said he would not betray her. He even said that Liberal Party is strong,” he said in Filipino.
Aguirre highlighted the links between the LP and De Lima and Trillanes.
“We all know that Senator De Lima belongs to the Liberal Party and Senator Trillanes has also been supportive of the LP,” he said in an interview.
Aguirre said Doniña was told he would eventually be freed, once President Duterte was ousted from power.
Aguirre admitted that Doniña’s claims remained hearsay as there was no evidence to back up his story.
“De Lima and Trillanes were not charged because it appears that the statements of Doniña were also hearsay since he had no personal knowledge,” the Justice secretary said.
Nonetheless, Aguirre denied De Lima and Trillanes’ claim that he invented the allegations of Doniña to implicate them in the attack on Sebastian.
“I only brought up these allegations against them when you [media] asked me for updates on our investigation on threats against Jaybee. And the stabbing incident is related to these threats against him,” he said.
Earlier, Aguirre disclosed that De Lima had been tagged in the threats against Sebastian that led to his transfer from the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City to the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Manila City last week.
Sebastian testified on Oct.10, 2016 that he gave P14 million in drug money to De Lima’s alleged representatives–her former aide Joenel Sanchez and former Bureau of Correction director Franklin Bucayu–when she was still Justice secretary.
Several other inmates corroborated his testimony and said they sold drugs through their contacts outside the prison to raise funds for De Lima in her senatorial campaign.
De Lima on Wednesday said it was President Rodrigo Duterte and his “cohorts” who ordered the stabbing of Sebastian.
“The fact is it is Duterte and his cohorts who ordered the stabbing and also the torture of inmates who refused to testify against me,” said De Lima.
De Lima lashed back at Aguirre and called him a “ chronic liar” for linking her to the stabbing incident at the national penitentiary.
“Aguirre is lying. He is a chronic liar like his boss, and a secretary of Justice without balls. What do you expect from a public official who fakes his own hair?” she said in a statement.
De Lima said Aguirre’s new allegation against her is again in line with the propaganda thrust of the Duterte administration to pin all the blame on somebody else except themselves.
“If I were responsible for the stabbing, it then seems that the NBP is run and managed by idiots who can’t protect high-profile inmates staying inside the most guarded spot in Philippine prisons,” she said.
She said Aguirre is exercising all powers of a Justice secretary without taking any responsibility.
“He has power and authority as DoJ secretary over the Bilibid [prison] but refuses to take responsibility for the stabbing of several high-profile inmates under his watch,” said De Lima.
Instead, Aguirre found a convenient scapegoat in her and Trillanes, who were several kilometers away from the crime scene, she said.