Aguirre seeks more witnesses to back probe vs. Cebu City mayor

MANILA Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has urged the people to come forward and reveal what they know in connection with the ongoing probe by National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the alleged drug links of Cebu City Mayor Tomas OsmeAa.

Aguirre said the probe is based on the Nov. 23, 2016 sworn affidavit of Reynaldo Diaz, also known as "Jumbo", who is the bagman and cousin of slain drug lord Jeffrey Diaz, alias "Jaguar".

Jumbo testified that "Mayor Tomas OsmeAa received payola from Jaguar the amount of PHP2 million for hospitalization expenses in 2013 and PHP5 million during the 2016 elections.

Citing the affidavit, the Secretary said Jumbo also tagged retired police Chief Supt. and now Mayor Vicente Loot of Daanbantayan, Cebu and four other police officers as protectors of drug lords.

I authorize the release of his statement upon the request of the Task Force Commander against illegal drugs of the NBI to encourage individuals possessing additional knowledge or information to come forward and corroborate the same, Aguirre said in a text message sent to reporters.

Aguirre said Jumbo is currently under the coverage of Witness Protection Program (WPP) of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ chief made the comment after OsmeAa threatened to file a case against him for allegedly interfering in the tax evasion complaint which the Cebu City government filed against retail giant SM Group and its banking arm, BDO Unibank.

Aguirre dared OsmeAa to just file the graft and disbarment cases against him as the mayor reportedly planned.

He explained that there was nothing irregular or anomalous in his order for transfer of the cases against SM and BDO executives from the Cebu prosecutor's office.

"The conflict between BDO and Mayor OsmeAa there in Cebu is very deep, so the respondents requested that the case be transferred because they could hardly expect fairness since the people there will favor the mayor," he told reporters on Monday.

"So what I did was to transfer the case here and assigned it to one of our prosecutors. But when I did that, it was within my power to transfer cases, which I always exercise," the DOJ Secretary explained.

Source: Philippine News Agency