Remulla orders probe into ‘fake’ memo directing transfer of PDLs involved in de Lima drug case


JUSTICE Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Wednesday to determine the identities and file charges against those responsible for the release of a “fake” memorandum purportedly issued by him directing Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General (DG) Gregorio Catapang to transfer 12 prisoners back to the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) from the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm (SPPF) in Occidental Mindoro.

At a news briefing, Remulla said his signature was “forged” by those responsible for the memorandum that was received by Catapang.

Catapang, who got suspicious of the authenticity of the memorandum, informed Remulla about it who confirmed that it was a fake.

Remulla expressed the possibility that erring employees of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the BuCor might be behind the release of the fake memorandum.

Remulla added there is also the possibility that the said inmates could also be involved in the fake document as they stand to benefit from it.

“It’s possible that somebody had done this before so we need to be alert,” Remulla said.   

He warned that the inmates that they risk additional prison sentence if they are found to be the involved in the issuance of the fake memorandum.

On the other hand, government employees who will also be found involved in the forgery could be charged with falsification of public documents and could also be sentenced to prison, aside from being removed from their posts.

“That is falsification and what the law mandates to be the penalty, we will impose through the courts. We will prosecute them,” he added.

Remulla stressed that the DOJ and the BuCor has not issued a memorandum ordering the return to the national penitentiary of the 12 inmates who were previously linked to former senator Leila de Lima to the illegal drugs trade at NBP when she was still the DOJ chief.

“We believe that certain government employees are in connivance in the issuance of that memorandum circular. I have instructed the NBI to find those responsible,” he added. 

The fake memorandum dated September 8 was also emailed to various officials of the DOJ, according to Remulla.

In the said memorandum, Remulla urged Catapang to consider the return to the NBP in Muntinlupa City of inmates Noel Martinez, Jerry Pepino, Herbert Colangco, Tomas Donina, Jaime Patio, Rodolfo Magleo, German Agojo, Hans Anton Tan, Joel Capones, Peter Co, Engelberto Duran, and Nonilo Arile since the national penitentiary has been designated by the DOJ-administered Witness Protection Program (WPP) as one of the “custodial facilities” for the purpose of safekeeping inmates who are under the program and considered as high value or high risk.   

 “The leadership of the BuCor is strongly advised to consider all factors, such as any active threat to the life and safety and or risk of potential retaliation or intimidation, in deciding whether the confinement of the above-mentioned persons deprived of liberty [PDL] requires the extraordinary security measures and protocols being provided,” the memorandum said.    

It can be recalled that the said inmates were transferred from NBP to a military facility during the term of former President Duterte after they testified against de Lima.  

The move, according to Duterte’s camp, was intended to protect them since de Lima still has some “allies” in the national penitentiary.

Remulla said he has reminded Catapang to be careful of suspicious directives, especially if no discussion happened before about an issue.   

“I have talked to DG Catapang and told him to be careful about all communications. I told him to validate when he is in doubt, especially when there were no discussions on the issue and suddenly there appears an order,” Remulla said.