Dispatch from Crame No. 418: Sen. Leila M. de Lima on Sec. Guevarra’s claim re: convicts as witnesses


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Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra says there are no convict State Witnesses being used against me because no convict has been discharged as such under Sec. 17, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court. He seems to be ignorant that this is not the only legal provision that turns a person into a State Witness.

State witnesses are not only provided for in Sec. 17, Rule 119 of the Rules of Court, but also under Sec. 10 of RA 6981, the law on Witness Protection Security and Benefits Program (WPSBP) that Guevarra is supposedly administering as Justice Secretary.

Guevarra should read that specific provision in the law. It is prefaced as “State Witness”, and it provides for the circumstances, conditions, and qualifications on how one becomes a State Witness under the WPSBP.

This was the provision used by the DOJ and Guevarra’s predecessor, Vitaliano Aguirre, to turn the convicted Bilibid inmates into State Witnesses, albeit illegally, because the crimes they were convicted for involve moral turpitude. According to Sec. 10 (e) of RA 6981, criminals convicted of such crimes are not qualified to turn State Witness.

Guevarra has no excuse in not knowing the status of these criminal convicts as State Witnesses under his witness protection program. His prosecutors are using them illegally as witnesses against me. His department granted them immunity illegally so they can testify against me. His agency illegally excluded them from the criminal charges filed against me, even if they are the ones who actually confessed to illegal drug trading, and should have been the first to be charged.

Ano ba ang sinasabi nila na ordinary witnesses lang ang mga yan? Hindi ba, kaya pinasok sila ng DOJ sa WPP ay para mabigyan, at nabigyan nga, ng immunity bilang State Witnesses? It’s plain common sense and logic.

Malinaw na hindi naman sila papayag na mag-testigo kung wala silang immunity. Ang immunity na iyan sa ilalim ng WPP Law at iba pang mga pinangako sa kanila ni dating SOJ Aguirre, bukod sa matinding pressure sa kanila, ang motibo nila sa pag-testigo laban sa akin base sa mga kasinungalingan.

Isa pang malaking tanong — Kung totoong ordinary witnesses lang sila, ibig sabihin wala silang immunity, bakit hindi sila kinasuhan ng DOJ kahit malinaw na inamin nila ang pagkasangkot nila sa Bilibid drug trade?

This is more than prosecutorial misconduct!

I don’t think a Justice Secretary can plead ignorance of the law as an excuse, as what Sec. Guevarra is doing now by citing the Rules of Court, instead of the very Witness Protection Law he himself is administering as Justice Secretary.

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