The House Committee on Justice is expected to recommend the filing of charges against Sen. Leila de Lima over her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) when she was the secretary of Justice.
Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya said not pressing charges against De Lima would be tantamount to ignoring the violations of the law committed during her term as Justice chief.
“Definitely, there has been a violation of the existing laws [based on the testimonies during the House Justice panel probe]. When you start stating the violations, the next question is, who violated the law? I would say it would be a challenge for them to present it [without recommending the filing of charges],” Andaya, a member of the Justice panel, told reporters in a chance interview.
The committee was supposed to release its report on the Bilibid drug probe on Monday but it was deferred to Tuesday because its members have yet to deliberate on whether or not it will recommend the filing of charges against De Lima.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said the panel would not recommend the filing of criminal charges against the senator because the probe was done in aid of legislation.
Several inmates at the NBP claimed to have given millions to De Lima to fund her Senate campaign.
Andaya however said lawmakers should be discerning of the testimonies of the inmates.
“Members of Congress should remember that these testimonies are made by gang leaders. Everybody wants to become the leader of everyone. Of course, they will skew their testimony towards their interests,” he said.
“They should focus on proof of evidence…on why the testimony [of the inmate]is being offered,” Andaya added.
Rep. Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list said the Department of Justice should further investigate the matter.
However, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said on Monday there is no lead yet that would prompt her office to investigate De Lima’s alleged links to the illegal drug trade.
“No, we have not initiated any investigation,” Morales said when asked if her agency had started probing the case.
“It’s not going to happen because lahat naman allegations itong mga ito e, wala pa namang lead talaga na (all of these are mere allegations, there is no lead) that would prompt us to initiate our investigation.”
Morales said the Department of Justice (DOJ) should be given a chance to look into the complaint filed against De Lima.
“If they believe that there is reason to conduct further investigation or for us to conduct preliminary investigation, then the case will come to us. When the case comes to us and if we believe that the fact-finding investigation is exhaustive enough to merit our preliminary investigation if there is any crime committed, then we will go through with it,” she added.