DOJ to submit for resolution drug raps vs De Lima, others

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Wednesday it is set to submit for resolution the drug trafficking complaints filed against former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima and other former government officials and inmates allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.

The five-man panel headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter L. Ong decided to end the preliminary investigation on the four drug complaints against the lady senator filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC); former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala; high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian; and the NBI.

"Wala na mag-file ng reply for affidavit kasi wala naman humingi in regard for the motions inhibition and to dismiss some motions filed (by other respondents) your motions is submitted for resolution together with our main resolutions these case is submitted for resolutions," Ong said with other members of the prosecution panel are Senior Assistant City Prosecutors Alexander Ramos, Leila Llanes, Evangeline Viudez-Canobas and Assistant State Prosecutor Editha Fernandez.

De Lima did not show up at the preliminary investigation and did not submit her counter affidavits in response to the complaints including violations of Republic Act No. 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act), qualified bribery under the Revised Penal Code, R.A. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), Presidential Decree 46 (Act Punishing the Receiving and Giving of Gifts of Public Officials and Employees) and R.A. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).

The lady senator instead sent her lawyer Filibon Tacardon who questioned the jurisdiction of the prosecution panel over the cases.

Tacardon argued that instead of the DOJ, De Lima might submit her counter-affidavit to the Office of the Ombudsman.

"We are of the position that this honorable panel has no jurisdiction to try the cases, not only one but all four cases so she sent me here to inform the panel," Tacardon told reporters after the hearing.

Tacardon said they have "the legal and factual basis" for their position even as he added that if the complaints are resolved by the panel of prosecutors, they are confident that it will be in favor of De Lima.

He also expressed reservation about the participation of Solicitor General Jose Calida's in the preliminary investigation saying that he may play a "material" role if and when the complaints reach the court.

Calida attended the hearing and introduced that he himself is a co-counsel for complainants VACC and Lasala and Esmeralda.

The Solicitor General earlier said he would use the powers of his office to back the drug trafficking and graft complaints filed against De Lima whom he described as "public enenmy number one, high priestess of hyprocrisy and patron saint of narco-politic" and that the groups running after the senator need to boost their legal machinery to equalize the enormous power of De Lima.

He said he attended the hearing as a "tribune of the people."

"I came here as a tribune of the people and not necessarily as solicitor general,' he told reporters after the hearings.

Ong played down's Tacardon's concerns.

"What is important is that VACC is here right now with complainant VACC founder Dante Jimenez. Whether he is assisted by Attorney Ferdinand Topacio or the Solicitor General, it doesn't really matter to us. I'm indifferent on that," Ong said.

Ong also berated Tacardon for asking for copies of the complaints and corresponding annexes saying that their camp already filed a motion in the previous hearing seeking inhibition of the panel from the case and referral of the complaints to the Ombudsman.

Ong branded as "conflicting pleadings" the request for the copies of the records and the motion for inhibition.

"If she (De Lima) attended the first hearing instead of sending a messenger, she wouldn't have had this problem," Ong pointed out.

De Lima's former driver and lover Ronnie Dayan; high profile inmates Vicente Sy, Wu Tuan Yuan alias Peter Co, and Jojo Baliga also failed to submit their counter affidavits.

De Lima's co-respondents include Jaybee Sebastian; former DOJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III; former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Franklin Jesus Bucayu; former BuCor director Ricardo Reineir Cruz; De Lima's former aide Joenel Sanchez; De Lima's former driver Ronnie Dayan, De Lima's nephew Jose Adrian Dera; NBI Deputy Director Rafael Ragos; former New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Superintendent Richard Schwarzcopf Jr.; NBI agent Jovencio Ablen Jr.; Bucayu's alleged bagman Wilfredo Elli; Baraan's former subordinate Jesusa Francisco; de Lima's secretary Lyn Sagum; Baraan's alleged bagman Julius Rejuso; and De Lima's alleged bagman only known as alias "Georg".

Others named in the complaints are convicted criminals and NBP inmates Sebastian, Herbert Colanggo, Engelbert Durano, Vicente Sy, Wu Tuan Yuan alias Peter Co, and Jojo Baligad.

The NBI filed complaints on Nov. 10 against De Lima for violation of Sections 5, 26 (b), and 27 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (Republic Act 9165), qualified bribery (Revised Penal Code) and Section 3 (e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), violation of An Act Punishing the Receiving and Giving of Gifts of Public Officials and Employees (Presidential Decree 46) and Section 7 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713).

Last Nov. 4, kidnapping convict Jaybee Sebastian through his wife filed third complaint before the DoJ against De Lima for alleged violation of anti-graft, anti-torture law, code of conduct and ethical standards, and indirect bribery.

The first case was filed on Oct. 11 by the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC), led by its president Dante Jimenez. The complaint was grounded on the lady senator's alleged violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Two days later, a second complaint was filed by former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officials Reynaldo O. Esmeralda and Ruel M. Lasala, citing the same violation.

Under the said law, the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine ranging from PHP500,000 to Php10 million shall be imposed to any person who will be found guilty of the offense.

Source: Philippines News Agency