MANILA, Philippines – The evidence used as basis for President Rodrigo Duterte's New Bilibid Prison drug matrix went through "thorough validation" before it was publicized, said the Palace on Thursday, August 25.
In a Thursday press release, Malacañang said Duterte refrained from showing the matrix to the public "until all the persons listed there have been confirmed to be involved in the country's drug problem."
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the prominent names of Senator Leila de Lima, Pangasinan 5th District Representative Amado Espino Jr, and others found their way into the matrix because of intelligence from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).
"President Duterte would not mention her name if he did not have the evidence to back the claim.” Andanar said.
Duterte himself, a few days before he revealed the matrix, said it was undergoing "revalidation."
Andanar gave assurances the personalities in the matrix "are given the chance to submit their counter affidavits indicating that they have no involvement in whatsoever capacity in the illegal drug trade."
As with two police generals Duterte previously accused of having links to illegal drugs, law enforcement agencies will gather prima facie evidence against De Lima, Espino, and the others in the matrix.
If enough evidence is gathered, authorities will file charges, said Andanar.
On Thursday morning, Duterte showed media a matrix accusing De Lima, Representative Espino, Pangasinan Provincial Administrator Raffy Baraan, former justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu, De Lima's driver Ronnie Dayan, and Pangasinan District Board Member Raul Sison of involvement in the Bilibid drug trade.
De Lima and Espino have denied the accusations, both saying they have fought illegal drugs in their own capacities. (READ: Pangasinan exec: Duterte drugs matrix 'big, horrible joke')
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.