Palace defends Duterte's order to transfer high-profile convicts to Marines barracks
The Palace defended President Rodrigo Duterte's order to transfer high-profile convicts to the Marine barracks in Taguig.
In a statement, Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Satuday refuted any irregularities in the executive chief's directive to transfer convicts who testified against Senator Leila de Lima.
He said the relocation from National Bilibid Prison to the Marine facility was not a reward.
"There is nothing insane, as described by Senator Leila de Lima, nor is it irregular, and neither unusual in ordering high-profile convicts who are witnesses in the case against the aforesaid Senator to be transferred in a marine facility in Fort Bonifacio," Panelo said.
"Security is the primary consideration for said transfer and such reason, the Palace firmy believes, is legally valid given that their lives are under threat because of their testimonies. This move of PRRD ( President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) is akin to the Witness Protection Program where the witnesses are given security for their safety," he added.
According to Panelo, De Lima, justice secretary during ex-President Benigno Aquino III's term, might have gained sympathizers or "henchmen" who might be plotting to obstruct "the unmasking of the truth about the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison."
Panelo said the convicted witnesses will not receive any VIP treatment while imprisoned in the barracks.
"Let us be clear: The high-profile convicts remain in a detention facility under the control of the Bureau of Corrections without any VIP treatment. In other words, no special or unusual considerations are granted to them," Panelo explained.
In an earlier statement, De Lima derided Duterte's command and assumptions she will eliminate other convicts who will be transferred to other facility.
"Hahaha...So, in Duterte's twisted mind, I'm that powerful! So Powerful that I can actually command my alleged NBP 'allies' to harm or assassinate their fellow inmates! This is insanity in its most diabolical form!" De Lima said on Saturday. Cristina Eloisa Baclig/DMS