Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima had the right to exhaust all legal remedies, including filing an appeal before the Court of Appeals.
This was after the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the administrative complaint De Lima filed against Guevarra for using convicts as witnesses in her illegal-drugs-trade case.
Guevarra said he was unaware that the Ombudsman had dismissed the administrative complaint for gross neglect of duty that De Lima had filed against him.
She could avail herself of all the legal remedies if she felt aggrieved at the decision of the anti-graft body, he said.
But Guevarra declined to comment on the substantive nature of the case that may constitute sub judice.
“If it’s true that the matter has been elevated to the CA, then it’s sub judice if asked to comment. I will make the comment in court. It is not my policy to discuss in public cases which are under litigation or review, because such an act may constitute contempt of court, which is punishable under existing rules,” Guevarra said in a text message.
“Suffice it to say that Senator De Lima is free to take all available legal remedies, as she has freely done since the time that she was indicted for serious criminal offenses.”
De Lima filed the complaint against Guevarra for allegedly using convicted drug lords at the New Bilibid Prison as state witnesses in the illegal drug trade cases the government had filed against her in 2017.
She accuses Guevarra of violating the Witness Protection, Security and Benefits Program Law.
But the anti-graft body ruled that the WPSBP Law does not apply if the crime is “committed in prison and the only witnesses are convicted criminals”.
De Lima said the WPSBP law prohibits those convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude from becoming state witnesses, adding the Bilibid convicts turned state witnesses against her by the DOJ were convicted of heinous crimes including kidnapping, murder and drug trading among other things.