Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday said inmate Jaybee Sebastian will not likely implicate Senator Leila De Lima in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
Sebastian is said to have pooled millions in drug money for De Lima's election campaign early this year, according to his fellow inmates who testified before the House justice committee in a two-day hearing last week.
"He (Sebastian) will testify for De Lima because he did not execute a sworn statement against her. He will be protecting his own skin," Aguirre said in a text message to GMA News Online when asked about his expectation on Sebastian's testimony.
De Lima had said that Sebastian was a government asset, which Aguirre shot down as a "foolish" claim.
She, however, dared the House committee to invite Sebastian to the probe and said she would not be surprised if the convicted kidnapper would speak against her.
The House justice committee is conducting an investigation into the alleged proliferation of the illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary during the term of De Lima as Justice secretary.
Interviewed on radio dzBB on Sunday, Aguirre expressed openness to the idea of forcing Sebastian to attend the next hearing on October 5, arguing that convicts have no right to refuse summons from a legislative body.
During the hearing, the Cabinet official said he would like to cross-examine Sebastian because he was confident that he can get information out of the high-profile inmate.
Also expected to appear at the next hearing is Joenel Sanchez, a former security aide of De Lima who allegedly acted as the senator's bagman.
Aguirre may also release at the proper time the Anti-Money Laundering Council's report on certain bank accounts that may be connected to the drug syndicates operating inside the NBP.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has been tapped to do a fact-finding probe into the Bilibid drug trade with the goal of filing charges against personalities involved before the end of the year. —KG, GMA News