SENATOR Leila de Lima maintained her innocence Monday and said convicted kidnapping gang leader Jaybee Sebastian was pressured to testify before a congressional panel that he had given her P10 million in drug money for her successful senatorial campaign.
“Obviously, Jaybee Sebastian has been pushed to the wall. Apparently and obviously, he failed to bear the pressure,” said De Lima.
She added that her “very A1 source” told her that Sebastian’s wife had pleaded with him to do as he was told.
For weeks, De Lima said, Sebastian was not easily convinced, but now he was in the House of Representatives and “joined the lies.”
De Lima said she learned that Sebastian was the real target of the recent riot in the NBP, in which one drug lord was killed. Sebastian suffered stab wounds.
“That can be the only explanation,” De Lima said. “In other words, he listened to his wife, because she begged him to do what they wanted, because they are only after De Lima.”
She branded the hearings in the House of Representatives a “kangaroo court” where lies were being peddled. She said the hearings were not in aid of legislation, but in aid of demolition—to destroy her as President Rodrigo Duterte promised to do.
In his testimony, Sebastian said much of the money was channeled through Joenel Sanchez, who provided her security at the time.
Sanchez denied Sebastian’s testimony at the same hearing Monday.
“Money? Ask Joenel if it’s true. Now, Joenel was also among those pressured to testify. I will not be surprised, if for example, they will recall Joenel for the purpose of collaborating or corroborating the claim of Jaybee Sebastian,” said De Lima.
De Lima also laughed off a lookout bulletin issued by Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to prevent her from leaving the country.
“Only a court can stop me from leaving,” she said. “Don’t worry, I have no plan to leave the Philippines to evade charges that will filed against me. I am innocent. Only the guilty escape.”
De Lima also said it was Reginald Villasanta, executive director of the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission, and Franklin Bucayu, former Bureau of Corrections chief, who told her that Sebastian was a government asset.
The beleaguered senator got support Monday from The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) led by former senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani and former Supreme Court Associate Justice Flerida Ruth Romero.
The group deplored the treatment of De Lima, calling it “vile, shameful and condemnable.”
“Even lowly criminals get their day in court. Why shouldn’t an elected solon and former secretary of Justice be accorded the respect and regard befitting her position?”the group said.
The women’s group challenged the administration to file the appropriate charges if they have evidence that will stand up in a court of law.
“But testimony from convicted criminals who have been promised immunity strains the credibility,” the group said.
“Sadly, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, mirroring President Duterte’s personal crusade against Senator De Lima, has led the assault on her right to due process,” the group added.
“They have tried, convicted, nailed and pilloried the legislator outside the legal process, before the whole world.”
It added that no woman should ever be slut-shamed, whether she is guilty or, more so, if she is innocent.
“We ask the Speaker of the House and his equally culpable cohorts—imagine if this were your mother, daughter, wife or sister. Would you still be lasciviously approving the showing of sex tapes?”
“When we allow such indignity and disrepute to be visited upon a fellow human being, we, as a people, also lose our dignity and capacity for benevolence,” the group said.