A day after several convicts testified in Congress that they raised funds for her Senate campaign, Sen. Leila de Lima was charged with drug trafficking in conspiracy with several other government officials at the Department of Justice (DoJ).
The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) led by its chairman Dante Jimenez filed the complaint against the senator for violating Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act) by conspiring with several government officials and inmates at the National Bilibid Prisons when she was the Justice secretary.
Also charged were former Justice undersecretary Francisco Baraan 3rd; former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu; Ronnie Dayan, Joenel Sanchez and Jose Adrian Dera, former bodyguards of De Lima; Bucayu’s alleged bagman, Wilfredo Ely; and drug convict Jaybee Sebastian.
De Lima and the other respondents were specifically charged with violation of Section 5 (sale and trading of illegal drugs) in relation to Section 26 (b) (conspiracy) of RA 9165.
If found guilty, they face life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.
Baraan was accused of receiving millions from the illicit drug trade at the NBP while Bucayu was charged with collecting drug money.
The VACC accused de Lima of using her power to protect inmates peddling drugs at the state penitentiary.
“Sen. de Lima utilized her power and authority as then Secretary of Justice to abet and even promote the proliferation of massive drug trade inside the Bilibid,” the group said, adding that the former Justice chief used drug money for her political ambition.
They alleged that de Lima spent P86.15 million for her senatorial campaign.
“For all the advertisement she contracted during the election campaign, where would she get the money from? One could not turn a blind eye to her actual source of fund. She had generous benefactors from inside the Bilibid. This explains why she never had second thoughts in running for one of the highest political positions in the country,” the VACC said.
The group attached copies of the testimonies of witnesses who appeared before the House of Representatives’ Justice committee that is investigating the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the NBP.
“Through her authority as the Secretary of justice, she was able to put in position her cohorts at the BuCor [Bureau of Corrections] to enable her to maneuver the drug trade,” it said.
“Her influence and power likewise offered respondents in this case shield and protection to ensure the invisibility in the conduct of their illegal trade; in this same manner that she was also able to eliminate the competitors of Jaybee [Sebastian] inside the prison by having them transferred to the NBI,” it added.
The VACC also submitted to the DOJ the sworn affidavits and testimonies of former National Bureau of Investigation deputy director Rafael Ragos, robbery convict Herbert Colanggo, Sebastian and other convicts who claimed that they contributed to de Lima’s campaign kitty.
Sebastian on Monday testified that he gave P10 million to de Lima.
“Each one of them had played significant roles in order to ensure the perpetuation of the illegal drug trade inside the Bilibid. Sen. 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 group said in its complaint.
“Her influence and power likewise offered respondents in this case shield and protection to ensure the invisibility in the conduct of their illegal trade; in the same manner that she was also able to eliminate the competitors of Jaybee inside the prison by having them transferred to the NBI,” it added.
“It is well-settled that direct proof, however, is not essential to show conspiracy. It need not be shown that the parties actually came together and agreed in express terms to enter into and pursue a common design. The concerted actions of respondents in this case before, during, and after the commission of the illegal sale and trade of prohibited drugs, demonstrate their unity of design and objective of perpetuating an act that violates the provision of RA 9165.”
Go to Ombudsman
De Lima welcomed the filing of the complaint but said charges against her should be filed before the Office of the Ombudsman since the allegations against her involve acts supposedly done when she was the Secretary of justice.
“This [filing of complaint]is most welcome. Instead of stoning me in a House inquiry, they should start filing cases in the proper venue,” de Lima said.
The senator added that although the DOJ may take cognizance of the case, the department would eventually file the case with 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 in a statement. “Unless they have other reasons for filing it with the DOJ instead of the Ombudsman. Justice under Aguirre is fake.”
The senator said she will file a complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for blatant abuse of power to test the doctrine of presidential immunity from suit.
“I’m going to file a test case, na may mga pagkakataon po na hindi pwede (there are instances that the president can’t) invoke the presidential immunity from suit,” de Lima said.
She is also considering filing charges against the allies of the President for violation of various laws, including the writ of amparo and habeas data.
De Lima said she wants to get justice from the acts of oppression and persecution done to her by the allies of the President.