Leila slapped with 3 drug raps
THE Justice Department has filed three criminal cases against Senator Leila de Lima before a Muntinlupa City regional trial court for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.
In three separate complaints, the Justice Department accused De Lima of violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which penalizes the sale and trade of illegal drugs, and for violating Section 28 of RA 9165, which pertains to criminal liability of government officials and employees.
In the first complaint, De Lima’s co-accused include her former lover and bodyguard Ronnie Dayan and Rafael Ragos, former director of the Bureau of Corrections and deputy director of intelligence of the National Bureau of Investigation.
In the second complaint, her co-accused are Franklin Bucayu, former BuCor director, and Jose Adrian Dera alias Jad De Vera, a nephew and close-in security of De Lima.
In the third complaint, the co-accused were De Lima’s former security aides Dayan, Dera, and Joenel Sanchez; Bucayu and his staff and alleged bagman Col. Wilfredo Elli, and Jaybee Sebastian, an inmate at the NBP.
In a press conference, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said prosecutors dismissed the complaints against former Justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan III for insufficiency of evidence.
Aguirre also denied that the filing of the case against De Lima is politically motivated, saying the prosecutors resolved the complaints against her on the merits of the case.
No arrest warrant has yet been issued against De Lima because the case will be raffled off on Monday afternoon.
The Justice Department junked the complaints against high-profile Bilibid inmates Herbert Colanggo, Engelberto Durano, Vicente Sy, Jojo Baligad and Wu Tuan Yuan, also known as Peter Co, since they will be used as prosecution witnesses.
The Justice Department also recommended to the Office of the Ombudsman the prosecution of De Lima for the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees; and the Act Punishing the Receiving and Giving of Gifts of Public Officials and Employees; and direct bribery and indirect bribery under the Revised Penal Code.
In the same resolution, prosecutors ordered the further investigation of the alleged extortion activities of pastor Danilo Rico inside the NBP; Dera’s alleged kidnapping of Peter Co’s niece Sally in March 2016; and the illegal drug activities committed by self-confessed drug lord Roland “Kerwin” Espinosa.
The resolution, dated Feb. 14, was approved by Prosecutor General Victor Sepulveda and was signed by the members of the DoJ panel composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, Assistant State Prosecutor Editha Fernandez, and Senior Assistant City Prosecutors Alexander Ramos, Leilia Llanes and Evangeline Viudez-Canobas.
The cases stemmed from the complaints lodged by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, former National Bureau of Investigation deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala, and and high-profile NBP inmate Jaybee Sebastian.
Sebastian had testified before an inquiry in the House of Representatives that he gave the senator millions of pesos in drug payoffs when she was still Justice secretary.
The Muntinlupa City RTC is expected to determine the existence of probable cause for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against De Lima.
The filing of charges against De Lima came after the Court of Appeals denied the appeal of De Lima to stop the DoJ from resolving the drug trafficking complaints filed against her, in connection with her alleged involvement in illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary.
In a decision written by Associate Justice Nina Antonio Valenzuela, the CA’s Special Six Division denied the plea of the senator for the issuance of an injunction against the Justice Department, saying she failed to show proof to justify issuance of a temporary restraining order.
Associate Justices Romeo Barza and Edwin Sorongon concurred with the ruling.
Nonetheless, the CA directed the Justice Department to file its comment on De Lima’s petition within 10 days from the receipt of the resolution.
In Davao City, President Rodrigo Duterte said he is confident the state has a strong case against De Lima.
“She has to face the music,” Duterte said in a chance interview after visiting the families of soldiers who were killed in action in Panacan, Davao City.
“It took them months to develop the case. The Filipinos knew all about her. The Filipinos knew that’s her style,” he added.
Earlier, Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry Roque chided the Justice Department for taking so long to file drug trafficking charges against De Lima.
“I want to file a resolution to look into the delay in the filing of cases against Senator De Lima. She really has to be jailed soonest less she wreaks further havoc on Philippine society,” Roque said.
“The DoJ should prove that there are no sacred cows, even if that cow is a former secretary of the DoJ itself,” he added. With Maricel V. Cruz