FORMER Justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan 3rd on Wednesday denied links to drug syndicates that operated in the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, saying he did not supervise the national penitentiary.
“All I can say now is that this is something I totally cannot imagine myself being involved in; it contradicts the deepest Christian values I hold dear. I know myself, and in due time the truth will prevail,” Baraan said in a statement.
On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte, who had earlier accused former Justice secretary and now Sen. Leila
de Lima of benefiting from drug money through her driver-bodyguard, said de Lima and Baraan were among the highest government officials in a “matrix” of personalities involved in the drug trade in Bilibid.
Like de Lima, Baraan pointed out that he could do nothing against the President’s attacks.
“I respect our President, but I am powerless before him. All I ask is fairness and due process, a chance to vindicate myself in a formal proceeding. If a complaint will be filed, so then I will have the opportunity to present my side,” he said.
Baraan clarified that the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) was just one of several Justice department agencies under his “limited administrative supervision.”
“As [undersecretary]having limited administrative supervision of Bucor, I did never oversee, either on the ground or from a distance, the prison operations in Bucor’s seven penal colonies, more so the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. As wrongly reported, I was not [undersecretary]in charge of the Bilibid: this is a total misconception,” he said.
His job as far as Bucor was concerned was just to countersign documents or contracts for de Lima’s signature, he said.
“That takes just a few minutes. Then, for Bucor my task is done that day. I then do my other tasks like resolving petitions for review, attending meetings, receiving foreign guests, etc.,” he explained.
Baraan pointed out that he was one of the members of the official Philippine panel that successfully negotiated the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US.