THE camp of former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday denied she was behind Sen. Leila de Lima’s woes, calling such claim a “desperate attempt” by the former Justice secretary who is accused of getting payoffs from drug syndicates at the New Bilibid Prison.
In a statement, Arroyo lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said de Lima was trying to “extricate herself from a legal quagmire of her own doing.”
“De Lima is trying to muddle the issue by finger-pointing when she should be explaining to the people why scores of witnesses—which include Bilibid inmates, former subordinates, aides and colleagues in the Department of Justice—have testified that she masterminded the transformation of the [New] Bilibid Prison into the hub of the nationwide drug trade,” Topacio said.
De Lima, who is being investigated by the Department of Justice, which she headed during the previous Aquino administration, claims a number of big personalities were pursuing a personal vendetta against her.
In a news forum on Thursday, de Lima noted that she had been blamed for preventing Arroyo from leaving the country in 2011 to face charges.
The neophyte senator also noted that she had put behind bars former lawmakers implicated in the P10-billion Priority Development Assistance Fund scam, and that she had stood up against an influential religious group.
“It appears that Sen. Leila de Lima is lashing out at everything that moves and attributing blame on everyone but herself. The utter absurdity of her allegations is at once evident,” Topacio said.
Topacio said Arroyo, who spent four years in hospital detention because of plunder and graft cases that were later dismissed for lack of evidence, would rather attend to her constituents and bond with her family.
“She has better things to do than bother with a creature like de Lima, whose shenanigans will soon be her own undoing, even without any help from Mrs. Arroyo,” Topacio said.
“Her general protestations of innocence and empty claims that the evidence are ‘fabricated’ and the witnesses ‘tortured and intimidated’ ring hollow in the face of numerous interlocking testimonies corroborated not only by each other, but by the findings of a congressional inquiry,” he added, referring to the recent investigation into the Bilibid drug trade conducted by the House of Representatives’ justice committee.
Advocacy group Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption earlier filed multiple criminal cases vs de Lima before the Department of Justice (DOJ), the lawyer noted.
“This is a result of her official misconduct, her overweening desire for wealth, her naked political ambition. She should snap out of her state of denial and face the fact that the wheels of justice may grind slowly, but it grinds exceedingly well,” Topacio said.
Sought for reaction, de Lima said Topacio confirmed Arroyo’s role in her “demolition” simply by speaking for the former president.
De Lima claimed Topacio showed “inordinate interest” in helping the DOJ build a case against her, adding “It does not take rocket science to put these connections together.”
She claimed Topacio brought to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd’s attention deposit slips as proof of alleged drug-related transactions, which she said later turned out to have been “manufactured.”
“According to sources also, he (Topacio) was one of those who operated on the Bilibid witnesses used against me in the House inquiry. He might even have participated in the preparation of their affidavits,” de Lima said.