ASIDE from her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison, embattled Senator Leila de Lima may soon face new charges related to the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program under the previous administration, her top critic, President Rodrigo Duterte, said Wednesday.
“She has a case coming up also related to DAP,” the President told state workers in a speech.
The President, however, did not explain how De Lima, a former, justice secretary, got herself entangled in the DAP under the administration of Benigno Aquino III.
“Although I could not believe really because we were talking, this woman is really something,” he continued.
Meanwhile, De Lima slammed the Duterte administration after delegates of the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights were not allowed to visit her in her detention cell in Camp Crame last Tuesday.
De Lima said the APHR delegates led by Tian Chua and Charles Santiago, both members of Parliament of Malaysia, together with members of the minority bloc in the House of Representatives, Reps. Tom Villarin and Teddy Baguilat Jr., were not allowed to see her despite compliance with the 10-day prior notice rule.
“This is not the first time though that an international visitor was barred from entering my detention quarters,” she said.
De Lima said last July 22, Liberal International president Juli Minoves was also prevented from visiting her due to an “administrative excuse.”
“This time, my staff were told that the papers got stuck at the level of the Office of the Directorate for Intelligence Services. Apparently, it’s not the fault of the Custodial Center officials but of higher ups,” she said.
“I ask why was there no action on the request of the APHR delegation which was a virtual denial of such request? Was it because of the strong statement APHR issued sometime last month, and reiterated at a presscon Tuesday, denouncing my unjust detention and calling for my immediate, unconditional release?” the senator said.
She added: “Why is this regime doing this? They have already incarcerated me based on trumped-up drug charges, persecuted me with all the lies to destroy my dignity and womanhood, and now they are denying my visitors, in particular, foreign leaders, to speak with me.”
While the parliamentarians have submitted their request as early as Sept. 6, which is compliant with the 10-day visiting notice, police officers maintained the request has not yet been granted.
The authorities however failed to give an exact reason for the delay of issuing the permit.
Chua said the decision to prohibit him and his colleagues from visiting De Lima only showed that the administration was bent on prohibiting international organizations to show their support to De Lima.
“We believe that if the authorities have nothing to hide, and if the authorities are doing things according to the principle of transparency, then we should not be denied from interacting and paying our visit to show our regards (sic) to her,” Chua said.
On the purpose of visiting De Lima, Chua said: “Our intention was to come here to express our solidarity with her, and as a fellow legislator in another Asean country, we believe that she’s innocent and her persecution is part of the intimidation campaign against her, which violates her rights as a legislator.”
Chua added “we find her detention unjustifiable, given she’s a representative doing her work. She is now in jail and for standing up against [the policies] of President Duterte, so therefore, we are here to express our solidarity with her.”
Chua and Santiago also affirmed their position to call for the immediate release of De Lima, saying she should be given her freedom “without any conditions attached to it.”
De Lima, a known critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, was detained for her alleged involvement in the drug trade.
Duterte earlier accused another critic, Senator Antonio Trillanes, of allegedly having more than 200 consultants.
The Disbursement Acceleration Program was found illegal by the Supreme Court in 2014 for improper use of savings and inter-branch transfer of appropriations.
Implemented from 2011 to 2013, it pooled government savings and realigned unused funds to 116 high-priority projects.
The Office of the Ombudsman had earlier cleared former president Benigno Aquino III of graft charges in relation to DAP, but said former budget secretary Florencio Abad would be charged with usurpation of legislative power for the implementation of DAP.
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