By: Christia Marie Ramos – Reporter, INQUIRER.net /November 24, 2020
MANILA, Philippines — “Don’t continue selling your soul to the devil.”
Lawyer Jobert Pahilga issued this advice to Jeffrey Celiz, who earlier surfaced as the security sector’s “star witness” in the Senate investigation on the alleged red-tagging by military officials.
“We should examine the person of Mr. Jeffrey Celiz, do not believe hook line and sinker what he is telling,” lawyer Jobert Pahilga said Tuesday as the Senate defense panel resumed its probe. The first hearing was conducted last Nov. 3.
Pahilga, who Celiz supposedly tagged as a recruiter of the NPA in a radio interview in Iloilo, started off his statement by denying allegations against him.
“I am not a recruiter for the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines)-NPA, I am a lawyer for the longest time for 18 years,” he added.
He then proceeded to cite Celiz’s previous service at the Iloilo City Hall from 2009 to February 2016, saying he was puzzled with the claim of the alleged former rebel that he was a former high-ranking official in the NPA.
“Kaya po nagulat ako sa kanyang pinagsasabi na siya ay isang napakataas na miyembro daw ng CPP na nasa operations command pa daw po siya,” Pahilga said.
(I was surprised by what he was saying that he was a high-ranking member of the CPP and was even hearing the operations command.)
“Kaya ako ay nagtataka. Kung ganun pala e bakit nasa city hall siya ng Iloilo…hanggang nung February 2016?” he added.
(I was puzzled. If that’s the case, why was he working at the Iloilo City Hall until February 2016?)
In 2016, Pahilga noted that Celiz disappeared from public view following his inclusion in President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called narcolist.
“Si Mr. Celiz sa tingin ko po ay natakot na mabiktima ng ‘Tokhang’ o kaya mabiktima ng drug war killings kaya ho siya nawala at nag-resurface bilang siya nang star witness ng NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict),” the lawyer said.
(I think Mr. Celiz was just scared of becoming a victim of Tokhang or drug war killings that’s why he disappeared and resurfaced as the star witness of NTF-ELCAC.)
But during a Senate hearing last Nov. 3 on red-tagging, Celiz claimed his inclusion in the list was part of a “government project.”
Upon knowing that Celiz surfaced at the Nov. 3 hearing as a “star witness,” Pahilga took to Facebook to question the alleged former rebel’s credibility.
“Nung malaman ko na siya na pala ang star or ace witness ng gobyerno, partikular ng NTF-ELCAC at siya yung pinaka-source ng information ng pangre-redtag ng mga legal personalities and organization, I made a Facebook post detailing how I know him and why I don’t believe his allegations and even dare to say that he is lying and he lies even to his handlers,” the lawyer told the Senate panel.
It was last Oct. 30 when the NTF-Elcac presented Celis, aka Ka Eric, as an alleged rebel leader who surrendered after 27 years with the guerrillas.
“Siya po ay isang legal na aktibista at parati po siyang naririnig ng mga tao noon nung siya’y aktibista pa sa Iloilo bilang spokesperson ng Bayan,” Pahilga, however, pointed out.
(He is a legal activist and he is prominent among the people in Iloilo as a spokesperson of Bayan.)
Pahilga also said he and his family are fearing for their safety after Celiz tagged him as a recruiter of the CPP-NPA.
“Gusto ko lang pong sabihin kay Mr. Celiz dahil ako’y tinawag niya na recruiter ng CPP-NPA, meron na pong mga taong umaaligid sa aming bahay sa Iloilo. Hinahanap at tinatanong na ako kung nasaan ako at nabanggit ang pangalan mo,” he said.
(I just want to say to Mr. Celiz that my home in Iloilo is being watched. They are looking for me and mentioning your name.)
“Kaya natatakot na po ang pamilya ko dahil sa iyong mga sinabi na walang batayan, natatakot ang pamilya mo na baka sila madamay, o baka ako ay mamatay rin,” he added.
(That’s why my family is scared because of your baseless allegation. my family is afraid that they will be dragged into this, or I may get killed.)
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmeranes, during the hearing, also belied allegations made by Celiz in the previous Senate hearing.
Colmenares questioned Celiz for claiming having direct-personal knowledge that all members of the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives is a member of the CPP.
“Pero wala siyang patunay na nilabas,” he said.
(He showed no proof.)
“These are untrue, incredible allegations without competence,” he added.#