CONTRARY to reports, the inmates who testified against Senator Leila de Lima and linked her to the illegal drugs trade in the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) did not testify in the House of Representatives inquiry in exchange for pardon or executive clemency.
In a statement, Atty. Ferdinand Topacio debunked the insinuation of Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano that the five of the 12 witnesses were promised executive clemency by the Duterte administration in exchange for their testimonies against De Lima.
The lawyer instead claimed it was several DoJ officials under the previous administration of President Aquino that offered to grant his clients parole in exchange for money.
He revealed that his clients admitted to him that they “were encouraged by some DoJ officials during the Aquino administration to apply for parole, with the assurance that, for the right amount of money, the said applications would be approved before end of the Aquino administration and the term of Sec. De Lima and that in fact, considerable amounts of money have already been paid by them to these people.”
Topacio, who serves as counsel for inmates Vicente Sy and Jojo Baligad, explained that the two convicts have no applications for pardon or executive clemency as what they filed was for parole.
The lawyer also stressed that the applications were filed last year under the Aquino administration, so they could not be linked to the investigation into the NBP drug trade.
”The pending applications for parole of my clients who have qualified for such applications were made during the time of then Justice Secretary De Lima. None of them were made during the time of Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre,” he said in a statement.
”Definitely no applications were made immediately before, during or after the congressional hearings. All the applications were for parole. None were for pardon,” Topacio pointed out.
Apart from Sy and Baligod, the three other inmates with pending applications before the Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP) are Engelbert Durano, Jaime Patio and Nonilo Arile.
Atty. Topacio said the statements made by Rep. Alejano on the issue were “irresponsible and deliberately misleading.”