Banco de Oro (BDO) issued clearance on Tuesday, September 6, stating that Senator Leila de Lima’s former staff does not own the bank account with an alleged P24 million deposits of drug money.
According to an Inquirer report, BDO said that the account exists, but it is not under the name of de Lima’s staff, Jonathan Caranto.
Caranto works at the Department of Justice (DOJ) National Prosecution Service as an Administrative Assistant III. He was also tagged in President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug matrix, revealed on August 25, that showed de Lima as the alleged top government official responsible for the proliferation of the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison.
According to the deposit slips currently investigated by DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Caranto’s supposed bank account was opened at the BDO branch at Grace Park-9th Avenue in Caloocan. Caranto, together with his counsel, Atty. Eirene Jhone E. Aguila, personally visited the branch.
He said that the bank told him and his lawyer that the account number existed, but it was at a different BDO branch, hence they could not access it. BDO also reportedly told them that the account was opened under a different name.
Caranto said that getting cleared by BDO from ever owning the account further proved his earlier affidavit, where he swore he only has bank accounts at the Philippine National Bank and Landbank.
“I went here at the Caloocan branch of BDO to check if they had an account under my name. I was told there wasn’t anything,” he told the Inquirer.
According to the deposit slips, BDO Account Number 004460088072 had six transactions with a P4-million deposit each on the following dates: Nov. 20, 2015; Dec. 14, 2015; Jan. 22, 2016; Jan. 26, 2016; Mar. 18, 2016; and April 29, 2016, totaling to a P24-million deposit.
Caranto’s counsel, Aguila, said that the BDO could not give them further details about the account number because of the Bank Secrecy Law.
On his inclusion in Duterte’s drug matrix, Caranto said that he was surprised upon hearing his name on a radio broadcast.
“I was surprised to be included in the drug matrix. I do not have anything to do with that,” he said.
He also denied being involved in cockfighting, as alleged by the drug matrix, preferring instead to stay at home.
His wife, Eileen, said that Caranto could barely eat after he was named by Duterte while hitting de Lima, his former boss, for allegedly being a drug protector.
After hearing about his name’s inclusion in the matrix, Caranto said he went to meet Justice Secretary Aguirre with the support of some of his DOJ friends.
He said that during the meeting, he was asked about the BDO accounts and the deposit slips. He also went to the National Bureau of Investigation and passed a lie detector test.
“Jonathan Caranto’s [tests] revealed that there were no specific reactions indicative of deception to pertinent questions relevant to instant investigation,” said the NBI.
Caranto said that he is still hopeful that the truth would surface and urged those included in the matrix to come out as well.
GMA News Online reported that Caranto also denied issuing a statement against de Lima because he does not know anything.
“Wala po dun sa salaysay ko na magwi-witness ako against de Lima, kasi wala naman po akong alam (My sworn statement did not say that I would stand as witness against de Lima, because I don’t know anything),” he said.
This denial from Caranto’s side of any intention to testify against de Lima and the clearing of his name as the owner of the BDO account with the drug money came after another DOJ staff, Edna “Bogs” Obuyes, also denied issuing a statement against de Lima. She said that her sworn statement cleared de Lima from being linked to the P24 million deposits into a questionable BDO account under her nickname, Bogs Obuyes. However, she was later surprised when her statement was suddenly made to pin de Lima down as a drug protector at the Bilibid.
GMA News Online also asked Aguirre for a reaction after Caranto’s revelation. The justice secretary said that they are still verifying the BDO bank account.
De Lima also weighed in on this new development clearing Caranto from owning the mysterious BDO account.
“The next logical question is – saan nanggaling ang mga so-called checks na yan? From which factory of manufactured ‘evidence’ are they coming from?” she asked.
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