AN ANTI-CRIME watchdog on Tuesday filed a complaint for drug trafficking against Senator Leila de Lima and seven others, in connection with their alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption also named as respondents former Justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu, De Lima’s former bodyguard and alleged boyfriend Ronnie Dayan, her former security aides Joenel Sanchez and Jose Adrian Dera, convicted drug lord Jaybee Sebastian and Wilfredo Ely, alleged bagman of Bucayu.
De Lima welcomed the filing of charges.
“This is most welcome,” she said in a statement. “Instead of stoning me in a House inquiry, they should start filing cases in the proper venue.”
VACC president Dante Jimenez accused the respondents of violating the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly the provision that outlaws the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical.”
The penalty under the law is life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.
The complaint was based on allegations that De Lima in conspiracy with the other respondents allowed and benefited from the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the NBP during her term as Justice secretary.
Jimenez alleged that the respondents were involved in the illegal drug trade inside and outside the NBP from 2012 to 2016.
De Lima, Bucayu, Dayan, Sanchez, Dera and Sebastian, the complaint said, were able to conspire with one another to perpetuate “a massive drug trade inside the Bilibid [prison] through the influence and power exercised by the Office of the Secretary of Justice, though then Secretary De Lima.”
The complainant also said De Lima used her authority to appoint and designate men inside the NBP to make drug transactions easy in the prison.
On the other hand, the VACC said Sebastian acted as one of the lieutenants of De Lima and Baraan in seeing to it that drug lords inside the prison complied with the demands of the drug trade.
The group accused Dayan and Sanchez of being the bagmen of De Lima who collected the drug money from Sebastian.
The anti-crime group cited the testimony given by convicted inmates led by Herbert Colanggo during the hearing of the House committee on justice inquiring into the proliferation of the illegal drug trade inside the NBP.
The VACC noted that Colanggo and several other witnesses were able to give details on how the illegal drug trade was being conducted inside the NBP upon the protection and intervention of De Lima with the help of the other respondents.
Colanggo also testified that he started giving money to De Lima through Sanchez starting in October 2013, allegedly to fund her senatorial campaign, with payments reaching P3 million just before he and 18 other high-profile inmates were transferred to the National Bureau of Investigation in December 2014, paving the way for Sebastian to take control of the drug operation in the NBP, allegedly with the blessings of De Lima.
The group said the transfer of the so-called Bilibid 19 was “calculated, planned and pre-meditated” to concentrate the drug trade under the control of Sebastian and De Lima.
The group added that De Lima had motive to allow the proliferation of illegal drugs in the NBP, which was to gather funds for her senatorial bid.
Before the 2013 mid-term elections, the VACC said De Lima was reported to have spent P86.15 million.
“For all the advertisements she contracted during the election campaign, where would she get the money from? One could not turn a blind eye on her actual source of fund. She had generous benefactors from inside the Bilibid. This explains why she never had second thoughts about running for one of the highest political positions in the country,” the complaint said.
The VACC also questioned the reason why De Lima undertook the raid at the NBP but excluded Philippine National Police deputy chief for operations Director Benjamin Magalong, who had planned the raid.
It added that it was also questionable that De Lima ordered the transfer of the 19 high-profile inmates to the NBI but excluded Sebastian, a known drug lord Jaybee Sebastian and make numerous personal visits at the NBP and even at the huts of high-profile inmates at the NBP before and after the December 2014 raids.
“Each one of them had played significant roles in order to ensure the perpetuation of the illegal drug trade inside the Bilibid. Senator De Lima, through her authority, as the secretary of Justice was able to put in position her cohorts at the BuCor to enable her to maneuver the drug trade,” the complaint said.
“Her influence and power likewise offered respondents in this case... protection to ensure invisibility in the conduct of their illegal trade,” the complaint added.
De Lima said the lawyers of the VACC should know that they should have filed the case before the Office of the Ombudsman instead of the Justice Department.
She said filing the case with the Justice Department was a waste of time, because it would be sent to the Ombudsman.
“In the interest of the speedy administration of justice, they should have directly filed this complaint with the Ombudsman, not the DoJ,” she said.
“Unless they have other reasons for filing it with the DoJ instead of the Ombudsman. Maybe because that is the domain of [Justice Secretary Vitaliano] Aguirre, the master of fakery. Justice under Aguirre is fake,” De Lima said.
“I challenge all those filing cases against me to file directly with the Ombudsman, which is the proper agency with jurisdiction, instead of the DoJ,” she said.
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