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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

De Lima vs. ex-DOJ chiefs now up to Ombudsman

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The Department of Justice said it is up to the Office of the Ombudsman to resolve the criminal and administrative complaints filed by former senator Leila de Lima against two former justice secretaries.

DOJ Assistant Secretary Jose Dominic Clavano IV said De Lima is free to do what she wants as long as these are within her rights.

“She has her rights. She’s at liberty to do what she wants. The justice system worked for her, and I believe it will work again.

That’s always been our stance. We have a working justice system. So ifshe does things that are well within her rights, who are we to stop her?” he said.

“There are always two sides to the same coin. De Lima may have her claims, but on the other side, the former justice secretaries have also had their stance on the issue,” he added.

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Clavano said the DOJ will “just have to leave it to the proper forum.”

The Court of Appeals had reversed for lack of due process the ruling of the Ombudsman which dismissed in 2019 the criminal and administrative complaints filed by De Lima against then Justice Secretaries Vitaliano Aguirre II and Menardo Guevarra, now Solicitor General.

With the reversal, the CA remanded to the Ombudsman De Lima’s complaints – which were incidents to the filing of illegal drugs cases in court against the former senator and her detention – for “proper disposition.”

De Lima, herself a former Justice Secretary, accused Aguirre and Guevarra criminally for dereliction of duty and graft, and administratively for grave misconduct and gross negligence for allowing inmates to testify against her in illegal drugs cases and including them in the government’s witness protection program.

The anti-graft body dismissed De Lima’s complaints even without requiring Aguirre and Guevarra to answer the charges.

Among other things, the Ombudsman ruled that Aguirre and Guevarra enjoyed the presumption of regularity in the performance of their official duties.

De Lima lauded the CA decision in her favor, adding she will pursue her complaints before the Ombudsman.

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