By Rey E. Requejo and John Paolo Bencito
SENATOR Leila de Lima and six other respondents did not show up on Friday during the preliminary investigation at the Department of Justice of the criminal complaints against them accusing them of involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.
Nonetheless, the Justice Department’s prosecutors gave De Lima and the other respondents up to December 21 to file their answers.
In Malacañang, Communications Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag said De Lima was feeding “misinformation” to divert attention from her connection to the illegal drug trade and her illicit affair with her lover-driver Ronnie Dayan.
She said De Lima was resorting to “squid tactics” to create distrust of the Duterte administration.
“These are meant to create division and spread suspicion against the administration,” Banaag said.
She made her statement even as De Lima on Friday asked Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to inhibit himself and his team of prosecutors from hearing the four cases against her to allow an objective and independent investigation of those cases.
De Lima asked the Department of Justice to refer the four cases to the Office of the Ombudsman which she said not only had the exclusive authority and sole jurisdiction but also the impartiality to investigate the charges against her.
Respondents De Lima, Dayan, inmates Vicente Sy, Peter Co, Jaybee Sebastian and Jojo Baligad; Julius Rejuso, the alleged bagman of former Justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan; and former Bureau of Corrections director Reinier Cruz failed to appear or send a representative during the preliminary investigation.
De Lima’s representative, Romeo Siazon, arrived minutes after the preliminary investigation ended to get copies of the complaints against the senator.
Siazon presented a letter of authorization from De Lima to the prosecutors to allow him to secure copies of the complaints.
On December 21, all respondents including De Lima were required to appear before the Justice Department to subscribe to their counter-affidavits.