Guevarra justifies using testimonies of convicts vs De Lima

Published November 7, 2018, 8:51 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra believes there is nothing wrong with using inmates to testify against detained Senator Leila de Lima in the drug charges against her.

New Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra during his appointment confirmation at the Senate building in Pasay City, May 30,2018.(Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)
New Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra during his appointment confirmation at the Senate building in Pasay City, May 30,2018.(Czar Dancel / MANILA BULLETIN)

Guevarra made the justification after de Lima filed a criminal complaint against him and former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II before the Office of the Ombudsman for admitting convicted criminals under the Witness Protection Security and Benefit Program (WPSBP).

“The charge against de lima was about trading in illegal drugs inside the NBP (New Bilibid Prison),” Guevarra reminded.

“Would it be surprising that inmates be called upon to testify?” he pointed out.

De Lima, who is detained at the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Camp Crame, is facing three charges of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading at the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC).

The senator filed the complaint before the Ombudsman after the RTC denied her motion seeking to disqualify 13 NBP inmates from being used as witnesses against her during her trial.

Those she sought to disqualify are NBP inmates Nonilo Arile, Jojo Baligad, Herbert Colanggo, Engelberto Durano, Rodolfo Magleo, Vicente Sy, Hans Tan, Froilan Trestiza, Peter Co, Noel Martinez, Joel Capones, German Agojo and Jaime Patcho

“As far as I know, no convicted person has been used as state witness under Rule 119 against De Lima,” said Guevarra who cited the Rules of Court.

Among the provisions of Rule 119, it provides that “upon motion of the prosecution before resting its case, the court may direct one or more of the accused to be discharged with their consent so that they may be witnesses for the state…”

However, before being the accused is discharged as witnesses, they must meet the qualifications of the court including that “said accused has not at any time been convicted of any offense involving moral turpitude.“

None of the 13 inmates are co-accused of de Lima in her drug charges.

In her complaint before the Ombudsman, De Lima wants Guevarra and Aguirre held liable for violations of Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code for abusing their powers to favor convicted felons and protect them from prosecution and Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft Law.

“The DOJ, under Secretaries Aguirre and Guevarra, has granted the confessed illegal drug traders immunity from prosecution as state witnesses, in blatant violation of Section 10(f) and 12 of R.A. 6981, which provide that criminals convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude cannot be turned state witnesses and granted immunity,” read her complaint.

“Through the same actions, then Secretary Aguirre and now Secretary Guevarra also violated Section 3(e) of R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act,” she added.

 
CLICK HERE TO SIGN-UP
 

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

["news"]
[2522561,2814292,2534630,2485825,2408462,2358243,2358052,2344118,2339143,2047660,1998697,996820,995332,995948,995006,994327,994303,993947,993860,993770,993529,993383,993285,798318,2919651,2919642,2919541,2919543,2919539,2919530]