MANILA — Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima on Friday declined to confirm nor deny reports about the departure for the United States of former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado as she cited provisions of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Witness Protection Program (WPP).
De Lima said that the law bars her from disclosing the whereabouts of WPP witnesses.
Mercado is covered by the WPP upon the request of the Senate where he has been testifying on the alleged corruption and ill-gotten wealth of his former close ally, former Makati City Mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family.
Mercado reportedly boarded a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight bound for Los Angeles, California, United States last Tuesday.
The DOJ Chief clarified that witnesses under the WPP who are not subject of any outstanding arrest warrants or hold departure orders (HDOs) may not be barred from exercising their right to travel.