The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) immediately handed over documents on suspected drug money to the National Bureau of Investigation after being publicly castigated by President Duterte for stonewalling on evidence to back the illegal drug charges filed against Sen. Leila de Lima.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday said that he was surprised that the BSP and the AMLC submitted bank records of individuals and companies involved in the drug trade less than two hours after being warned of a "confrontation" by Mr. Duterte during the NBI anniversary on Monday.
Drug trade in prison
Aguirre said the President was justified in lashing out at the BSP and the AMLC for sitting on bank records requested by the NBI to support the bribery, graft and drug-related complaints it filed against De Lima, two prison officials and a dozen inmates on Nov. 11.
The complaints link De Lima to the illegal drug trade in New Bilibid Prison, which Mr. Duterte's allies in the House of Representatives investigated in September.
The filing of the charges was supposedly the first step toward the prosecution of De Lima, the biggest critic of Mr. Duterte's brutal war on drugs.
Mr. Duterte has vowed to "destroy" De Lima for defying his injunction to Congress not to investigate his campaign against the narcotics trade, which has cost the lives of more than 3,700 people.
In his speech at the NBI anniversary, Mr. Duterte warned the BSP and the AMLC of a "confrontation" with him if they did not hand over the bank records the NBI needed.
'Who are they protecting?'
Aguirre said the BSP and the AMLC had the documents ready much earlier, noting the date marked on the papers, Nov. 11, 2016, was handwritten.
"The question is why did they wait until the President got angry with them before submitting the documents? Who are they protecting?" Aguirre said.
Aguirre said he could not understand why the BSP and the AMLC were uncooperative in the investigation of De Lima when they were obviously too eager to share all the documents they had against political rivals of the previous administration, notably the late Chief Justice Renato Corona and then Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Aguirre said involvement in illegal drugs was a predicate crime and the BSP and the AMLC were obliged under their mandate to investigate the bank transactions of suspected drug lords and their protectors.
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Source: Inquirer, Youtube