CALLING Senator Leila de Lima “Public Enemy No. 1,” the Office of the Solicitor General said it would provide legal assistance to groups that earlier filed drug-related charges against her.
“Drugs are our enemy, and who is espousing the proliferation of drugs? Former Justice secretary De Lima. Therefore, she is Public Enemy No. 1,” Solicitor General Jose Calida said during the launching of the Coalition Against Illegal Drugs (Coil) in Manila.
Calida said his office would provide legal services to Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and other complainants who accused De Lima of accepting payoffs and protecting the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was still Justice secretary.
Calida said the groups going after the senator needed to improve their legal machinery to match De Lima’s resources.
“In order to strengthen the resolve of the complainants, I will lend the prestige and gravitas of my office to defend them and help them in their cases against Senator De Lima,” Calida said in a press conference.
Calida said he took the unprecedented step after De Lima refused to submit herself to the investigations by the Justice Department and the House of Representatives.
“Senator De Lima should not be left to her own devious devices at the expense of the people. The high priestess of hypocrisy and patron saint of narco-politics must not be allowed to make a mockery of our justice system and get away with it,” the state’s top lawyer said.
“Her shenanigans demand a more vigorous response from the government she wants to destroy. The people are disgusted...so are we,” he added.
This will be the first time the OSG will represent or provide assistance to private litigants in a criminal case.
Calida noted that while the OSG’s principal mandate is to represent the government and its agencies and officials in cases, it can “also act and represent the people before any court, tribunal, body or commission in any matter, action or proceeding which affects the welfare of the people as the ends of justice may require.”
The Solicitor General said as a Cabinet member, he also cannot accept what he called De Lima’s efforts to “destabilize” and make a mockery of the President’s policy.
He denied, however, that this was tantamount to persecution.
“We are just applying the rule of law. No one is above the law, that’s why we have to step in to equalize and neutralize her advantage over these complainants,” he said.
Apart from the VACC, the other members of the new Coalition Against Illegal Drugs (Coil) are the United Filipino Seafarers, Republic Defenders, Conform Federalism and Citizens Crime Watch.
They called on De Lima to respect the rule of law and appear in the preliminary investigation on criminal charges against her in the Justice Department, which will continue on Dec. 21.
De Lima faces four criminal complaints filed by the VACC, the National Bureau of Investigation, former NBI deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala and inmate Jaybee Sebastian.
She is accused of violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, along with her former driver and lover, Ronnie Dayan, former Justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu, and former NBI deputy director Rafael Ragos.
House leaders led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez have also filed a complaint against the senator for disobeying a summons issued by Congress.
A five-man panel headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, began preliminary investigations on the case on Dec. 2 to determine if there is sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of a case against De Lima and the other respondents.
Ong told the respective lawyers of the respondents to submit their response to the complaints on the hearing of the case set on Dec. 21 at 2 p.m.
He said that on Dec. 21, all respondents, including De Lima, are required to appear personally before the Justice Department to submit their counter-affidavits, except for the Bilibid inmates. With PNA
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