House Committee on Justice chairman Rep. Reynaldo Umali belied insinuations of critics and the opposition that the probe into Bilibid drugs is scripted and only intended to destroy the image of Sen. Leila de Lima.
Umali said the committee assured the witnesses of fair time to testify freely on what they know about the drug operations inside the New Bilibid Prisons.
The committee set another hearing next week, which controversial high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian is expected to attend.
During the Thursday hearing, five out of 13 witnesses of the Department of Justice testified: Joenel Sanchez, a former security aide of De Lima when she was the DoJ secretary; inmate Nonilo Arile, and inmates former PO3 Engelberto Durano and Joel CaponesIn fact, Sanchez and Capones testified even without immunity.
“As we look back, we made it clear to the public that we, indeed, performed our duties while upholding the virtues of fairness, objectivity and mutual respect. In these moments, we give voice to our constituents in Congress, we make representatives of the people remain true to their work. And in these moments, we rise to the occasion and stand firm on the Filipino principles and values we believe in,” Umali said.
He maintained that allowing Justice Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre to question the witnesses was not unprecedented as this was practiced in the Senate investigation into the Napoles case by no less than De Lima herself.