16 November 2016

DOJ eyes airtight case vs De Lima
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre on Wednesday said his office is preparing an airtight case against Senator Leila De Lima in connection with her alleged involvement in illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa.

At a press briefing in Malacañan, Aguirre said he believes that the case against the embattled senator is strong even without the testimonies of De Lima’s alleged lover Ronnie Dayan and Kerwin Espinosa, son of slain Albuera, Leyte, Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr.

“Actually even without Dayan’s testimony, even without Kerwin’s testimony, sufficient na. Sobra-sobra na nga pagdating sa testimonial evidence but considering that we are strengthening the case, parang ‘yung sinasabi ko noon that we would want to file an airtight case, every single additional evidence, we welcome it,” Aguirre said.

He noted that De Lima’s own confession of her relationship with Dayan, her former driver, has strengthened the case against her.

Aguirre remains hopeful that the P1 million reward being offered to anyone who can give information leading to Dayan’s arrest will lead to the early apprehension of the fugitive.

Dayan has been ordered arrested for contempt after failing to attend hearings at the House of Representatives.

Aguirre revealed that the DOJ were told that Dayan is being protected by some high-ranking public officials in his home province of Pangasinan and other areas Northern Luzon such as Baguio.

Meanwhile, Aguirre said they government is willing to provide protection for Kerwin who is set to return to the country on Friday after being arrested in Abu Dhabi.

“Welcome po ang lahat ng gustong makipagtulungan para ating maparusahan itong mga malalaking mga public officials involved in the drug trade. Kaya we were offering the protection of the WPP to Kerwin Espinosa, even to Ronnie Dayan, as long as they are cooperative and that they will be qualified to be accepted, to be admitted under our Witness Protection Program,” the Justice official said.

“I have written General Bato (PNP Director General Ronald Dela Rosa) that if ever any assistance is needed in connection to protective custody of Kerwin, then the NBI is willing to provide such protection,” Aguirre added.

At the same press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella also allayed fears of overseas Filipino workers in the United States and call center in the Philippines over the new foreign policies of newly-elected President Donald Trump.

The Palace spokesman said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III urged undocumented OFWs in the United States to return to the country amid the threat of massive deportation of illegal immigrants once US president-elect Donald Trump assumes office in January.

He added that the government will be ready to provide assistance to OFWs who will return home through business and employment opportunities. PND