There is one way to convict and jail Senator Leila de Lima of drug charges and make that jailing credible to most Filipinos: the presentation of a money trail. Bank accounts in yuuge (borrowing from Trump) numbers. Testimonies of bagmen (real ones, credible ones, not like the yahoos that the state has presented so far), and a credible narrative showing that she really benefitted from the drug trade as alleged by the state.
In short, show the Filipinos she reaped billions of pesos from the drug trade, backed by the required documentation and witnesses.
Show us the money.
Only a money trail will clear all doubts that she really deserved to be called the “grandmother of drug lords.”
So far, nothing except claims that she did coddle /mastermind the drug trade with the NBP as the main trading point have backed up the charges against her; that Dayan collected money on her behalf; that Dayan had built a decent house in Pangasinan; claims that she bankrolled her senatorial win on money tainted by drugs. All of these would be lame and lack credibility without proof of bank accounts and real bagmen.
Most Filipinos want assurance that the drug charges are legitimate and not trumped-up. Most Filipinos want a fair trial and not a conviction by a kangaroo court. A legitimate money trail will be the clincher into forming a national consensus that Sen. De Lima was, indeed, the drug queen as alleged.
After all, she is an elected senator of the country. She had no known reputation for being a crook. Her professional CV is more impressive than the professional reputations of two thirds of the members of the DU30 cabinet. Except for her ghastly, terrible choices in men and her libertine ways, the public does not have much of a negative dossier on Sen. De Lima. And being libertine has nothing to do with public performance. George W., a deeply religious president, to cite, led his country to two calamitous wars and the Great Recession. The libido-driven Bill Clinton, on the other hand, presided over an era of peace and prosperity.
Once state lawyers accomplish all these, no one would lose a good night’s sleep over the arrest and jailing of the senator. We can all say: “Ok, she deserves to rot in jail.”
Otherwise, the effort to prosecute her would lead to one thing – we might have to look at her as the next leader of the Philippine opposition.
Before we go into that, let us take a quick look back at a precedent – on what led to the jailing of Erap Estrada and let us ask this question: who was the main figure that turned the public against Erap Estrada? It was not Chavit Singson’s testimony, though that mattered a lot too. The pivotal moment was the senate testimony of a former banker, Clarissa Ocampo, of the defunct Equitable-PCI Bank.
Ocampo was the Equitable-PCI banker who knew that Erap Estrada opened accounts under the name of “ Jose Velarde” and testified on that fact during the Erap impeachment trial in the dying days of 2000.
That proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that Estrada accumulated money from various illegal sources, starting from the early days of his presidency, to finance a lavish lifestyle and the lifestyle of his many mistresses. A few days later, emboldened by Ocampo’s testimony, a lynching mob formed at the Palace gates to oust Estrada, who quickly made his Pasig River getaway.
State prosecutors need another Clarissa Ocampo to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that Senator de Lima indeed reaped awesome rewards from her alleged drug activities. Or many Clarissa Ocampos, for that matter.
The absence of a money trail will just prop up claims of the senator that the efforts to jail her constitute political vendetta and not a legitimate inquiry into an indiscretion of the highest form. You know what? A prosecution that fails to append a money trail to her name will merely boost her political stock and we all know what will come next. It is quite predictable.
Without the tangible proofs of rewards from her alleged drug-coddling/drug trading days, the trial of Senator de Lima will be in utter shambles. For she could not have done that for the sole purpose of pleasing Dayan or giving him the leeway to engage in drug-related commission-taking. She should be proven the main beneficiary and only a money trail would prove that.
The government has the full power to look into hidden bank accounts, even into accounts hidden by several layers of dummies and phony accounts.
At the orders of government, even vaults and walls would sing in this country and leak like sieves.
Without the money, she will be judged innocent by the general public. She will walk. Then she will sprint to assume the leadership of the opposition, given the lack of spine of the Aquino-Roxas group. The remnants of the lame duck Aquino-Roxas group are as spineless as their two bosses.
With Ms. Robredo playing it nice as always, the bruised but relentless de Lima will eventually capture the public imagination as a fighter. Who knows? That may lead to a bigger prize. Being tough and ready to take in all comers is a major political asset nowadays.