MANILA—Former Department of Justice (DOJ) undersecretary Francisco Baraan III denied Wednesday any link to the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.
“I respect our President, but I am powerless before him. All I ask is fairness and due process, a chance to vindicate myself in a formal proceeding. If a complaint will be filed, so then I will have the opportunity to present my side,” Baraan said.
“All I can say now is that this is something I totally cannot imagine myself being involved in; it contradicts the deepest Christian values I hold dear. I know myself, and in due time the truth will prevail,” he added.
He also clarified that the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) was just one of several DOJ agencies under his limited administrative supervision. The other agencies were the Board of Pardons and Parole, Parole and Probations Administration, and Office of the General Corporate Counsel, among others.
“As Usec (undersecretary) having limited administrative supervision of BuCor as Bureau, I did never oversee, either on the ground or from a distance, the prison operations in Bucor’s seven penal colonies, more so the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. As wrongly reported, I was not Usec in charge of the Bilibid: this is a total misconception,” he noted.
“A typical day in my DOJ office: folders of Bucor contracts/documents on my desk endorsed and reviewed by our Technical Services, with the latter’s corresponding recommendation, are reviewed by me, then I countersign the action document for the Secretary’s final signature. That takes just a few minutes. Then, for Bucor my task is done that day. I then do my other tasks like resolving petitions for review, attending meetings, receiving foreign guests, etc. I am one of the members of the official Philippine panel that successfully negotiated the EDCA with the US panel,” he explained, referring to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the Philippines and the US.
On Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte said that Malacañang is in possession of a matrix that shows the alleged role of former justice secretary now Senator Leila de Lima in the so-called “Muntinlupa Connection” being run out of the New Bilibid Prison.
The President said that de Lima is the highest ranking public official in the matrix, which he intends to divulge to the public in a week’s time.
When pressed by media if he was referring to Baraan as the DOJ official whose name appears in the matrix, the President said, “Yes.”