EDGAR Matobato — the confessed hit man who claimed in a Senate inquiry that he was involved in killing 1,000 people from 1988 to 2013 on orders of then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte — is more credible than the inmates who testified against Sen. Leila de Lima at the House of Representatives.
Fr. Ranhilio Aquino, dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, made a number of observations on the probe into the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison, conducted by the House justice committee.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd, a San Beda law alumnus like Duterte and de Lima, presented convicts Herbert Colanggo and Rodolfo Magleo on Tuesday and Noel Martinez, Jaime Patcho and Jojo Baligad on Wednesday.
Magleo — who claimed that inmates Jaybee Sebastian and Colanggo were able to run “sin-city” type business in the Bilibid because they paid off de Lima through an aide — particularly earned the ire of Aquino.
“What a joke! Aguirre presented Magleo to much fanfare thinking that his witness was a bombshell on de Lima? Matobato was more credible than Magleo. In his surfeit of confidence, he (Magleo) sounded every inch a coached and rehearsed witness,” Aquino said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“He had the answers even before the questions were completed, he volunteered what was not asked. When Aguirre forgot part of the script, Magleo asked for permission to fill in the blanks, and Magleo successfully blurred the essential lines between personal knowledge, hearsay, conjecture and conclusion,” Aquino added.
Aquino also went after House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte who was quoted as saying that it was not the business of the House to weigh on the truthfulness of the testimonies of the witnesses, but the Department of Justice that will file the cases before court.
On Wednesday, the priest and legal expert wrote a Facebook post titled: “One more day of witnesses … and stories … and tales.”
“If Leila de Lima has been on the take as is alleged, she has to face the music: She must be prosecuted, tried and punished. But let the evidence against her be veridical, competent and sufficient to leave no doubt. But Congressman Fariñas has this strange theory that Congress should not bother about the truth of the testimony of witnesses. Does legislation rest on fiction then? I am aghast!” Aquino said.
‘Only some witnesses credible’
For political analyst Ramon Casiple, not all witnesses presented during the hearing of the House committee on justice were credible because some had axes to grind against de Lima.
Casiple did not mention the names of the witnesses he found credible except for police official Benjamin Magalong, who attended the House probe as a resource person.
Magalong in his testimony said the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police was left out in the December 2014 raid at the New Bilibid Prison despite the fact that they came up with the suggestion.
Casiple likewise said the House witnesses were not able to give strong evidence that would link de Lima to the supposed drug operations at the national penitentiary.
“When you are talking about money, you must have material evidence that would support your claims,” the political analyst said.