PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday declared the political career of Sen. Leila de Lima “finished” after he released the “matrix”—a diagram indicating that the lawmaker was involved in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) during the previous administration.
The “Muntinlupa Connection” matrix, shown to reporters early Thursday in Davao City, listed de Lima and fellow former officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ), as well as politicians in Pangasinan.
“De Lima, you are finished. Tapos ka na,” Duterte said, adding that the senator would no longer win re-election in 2022.
The matrix claimed Ronnie Palisoc Dayan, de Lima’s former driver-bodyguard, was her “boyfriend” since she became head of the Commission on Human Rights.
Former Pangasinan governor and now Rep. Amado Espino Jr., a Liberal Party member, was tagged in the matrix as the “richest politician in Northern Luzon” who had “amassed unexplained wealth.”
The matrix also linked Espino, who is facing a plunder charge, to black sand mining, quarrying, and the jueteng illegal numbers game.
De Lima was allegedly connected to Espino through the latter’s long-time aide, Raffy Baraan, the provincial administrator of Pangasinan.
Raffy is the brother of Francisco Baraan 3rd, who was undersecretary when de Lima served as DOJ secretary in the previous Aquino administration.
Raffy was supposedly used by Espino as “cover” for his illegal activities. Francisco, meanwhile, was described as de Lima’s “trusted undersecretary” and was put in charge of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which has jurisdiction over the NBP.
An arrow from Undersecretary Baraan pointed to retired chief superintendent Franklin Bucayo, who supposedly became regional director for Northern Luzon of the Philippine National Police with de Lima’s help.
After his retirement, Bucayo became BuCoR chief, but resigned after being accused of involvement in the illegal drug trade at the NBP, the matrix claimed.
Arrows linked de Lima and Bucayo to Dayan, who was described in the matrix as the “case fixer” of “well-known politicians” in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan.
Dayan, known as “BOSS De Lima,” based on the matrix, allegedly received monthly payola or grease money from Bucayo through a certain Senior Police Officer 1 Palisoc.
The matrix claimed that Dayan, “a known drug user in Urbiztondo,” got a house and lot, a Mitsubishi Montero, a Kia Sedan and cash from de Lima.
A person described as an Urbiztondo local government employee, “Ms Cardenosa,” was also named in the matrix. She was allegedly used by Dayan as dummy for his properties.
Pangasinan Board Member Raul Sison was included in the matrix, with links to Dayan and Espinosa, but it was not clear how he was involved in the drug trade.
Duterte had accused de Lima’s former driver-bodyguard of collecting money from drug lords, and claimed these were donations to de Lima’s senatorial campaign.
De Lima has denied benefiting from drug money.
In a radio interview, Espino denied any connections to the drug trade, saying the allegations were “far from the truth.”
“I am among those fighting drugs in our province,” Espino said in Filipino.
Cases vs de Lima eyed
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd said Thursday de Lima could face graft and corruption cases for allegedly accepting “drug money” from high profile inmates, based on the testimonies of up to six witnesses.
“At the very least, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, if what they (witnesses) are saying is true, and of course violation of the anti-drugs law,” Aguirre told reporters at the Senate.
Aguirre said investigators were taking statements from witnesses at the NBP in relation to the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the prison in the past six years.
“We are taking their statements already. We hope to take at least six witnesses’ affidavits and they will be presented during the House investigation on the proliferation of illegal drugs,” Aguirre added.
Some of the witnesses are NBP inmates, some are prison guards and others were friends of de Lima, Aguirre said. (CATHERINE VALENTE, JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA, MANILA TIMES)