No-show de Lima calls for Aguirre, officials’ inhibition
Sen. Leila de Lima was a no-show at the Department of Justice (DoJ)’s hearing into the criminal case filed against the senator and others for their involvement in the Bilibid drug trade, commenced yesterday, with the former Justice chief failing to personally appear before prosecutors.
Instead, aside from merely sending her counsel to get copies of the complaints against her, she virtually demanded that DoJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and state prosecutors to inhibit from the hearing and handling the cases against her.
“Considering the partiality, bias and lack of objectivity of the Secretary of Justice and the panel ofinvestigating prosecutors in these cases, these officials should inhibit themselves and instead refer the cases to the Office of the Ombudsman,” she said.
De Lima’s representative, Romeo Siazon, arrived minutes after the preliminary investigation had ended to get copies of the complaints for the senator.
Siazon was given copies of the complaints after he provided the DoJ panel led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong a letter of authorization from the embattled senator.
The DoJ gave Senator de Lima and the other respondents in four complaints up to December 21 to respond to the accusations that she was at the top of a syndicate receiving hush money from drug lords transacting from inside the national penitentiary.
Seven respondents failed to appear or send their representatives before the DoJ which had been intended for those implicated to get copies of the complaints.
Respondents inmates Vicente Sy, Peter Co, Jaybee Sebastian and Jojo Baligad; Julius Rejuso, alleged bagman of former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan; former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Reinier Cruz and Ronnie Dayan, de Lima’s former driver and lover, failed to appear or send a representative before the DoJ.
On December 21, all respondents, including de Lima, are required to appear personally before the DoJ to subscribe to their counter-affidavits.
The Bilibid inmates, including Herbert Colanggo, will subscribe their affidavits at the Intelligence Service Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
The four drug complaints were 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.
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; the senator’s former aide Joenel Sanchez; her former driver-love, 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 by the alias George.
Likewise named in the complaints are convicted criminals and NBP inmates Sebastian, Colanggo, Engelbert Durano, Vicente Sy, Wu Tuan Yuan alias Peter Co, and Jojo Baligad.
De 5 tells DoJ: File
case before Ombudsman
De Lima quickly filed as motion seeking the inhibition of Aguirre and the state prosecutors, she told the media yesterday.
De Lima was referring to the omnibus motion filed by her lawyers immediately after the proceedings in the DoJ that seeks the inhibition of Justice Secretary Aguirre and his team of prosecutors handling the drug-related complaints against her.
Instead, the senator asked the DoJ to refer these cases to the Office of the Ombudsman which she maintained, not only has the exclusive authority and sole jurisdiction but also the impartiality to investigate the allegations against her.
“Considering the partiality, bias and lack of objectivity of the Secretary of Justice and the panel of investigating prosecutors in these cases, these officials should inhibit themselves and instead refer the cases to the Office of the Ombudsman,” she said.
Citing the 1989 Ombudsman Act, de Lima pointed out that the charges leveled against her as a public official clearly fall within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.
“This duty to forward the case to the Office of the Ombudsman even acquires pragmatic value, considering that the DoJ Secretary himself committed to still submit to the Office of the Ombudsman the result of the investigation in these cases,” she said.
“All these cases, including the one lodged with the Office of the Ombudsman, anchor their charges on a common allegation that respondent Senator de Lima is involved in the illegal drug trade in the country,” she added in her petition.
De Lima and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales are good friends, and Morales has been perceived as a partisan and biased Ombudsman who protects those allies of her yellow patron, former President Noynoy Aquino.
Morales is likely to either sit on the case against de Lima or dismiss it completely. Morales also stated earlier that her office is also looking into the same case.
Much earlier, she strongly indicated that she will not probe de Lima, saying, “it’s not going to happen.”
The senator also sought to suspend the preliminary investigation and asked for the inhibition not only of Aguirre, an appointee of President Duterte, her known nemesis, but also his team of prosecutors from hearing these four cases.
“The integrity of the investigation in these cases appears to be seriously tainted and deeply compromised as no less than the President and the DoJ Secretary has prejudged the guilt of respondent Senator de Lima,” her petition said.
“In this environment, where the President and the DoJ secretary have complete control and supervision over the work of their subordinates at the DoJ, it is a foregone conclusion that the conduct and the results of the investigation will not be impartial and objective,” it added.
De Lima explained that the various public pronouncements of the President and Secretary Aguirre prejudging her guilt are “indubitably implicit instructions to the investigating prosecutors to file cases in court regardless of actual evidence.”
“The importance of an independent and impartial investigation, forming part as it is of the fundamental right to due process, cannot be over-emphasized,” she said.
The senator argued that Aguirre who has spent so much time gathering trumped-up evidence against her and pronouncing her alleged guilt in several media interviews has basically acted as her “special prosecutor and personal persecutor” and has ultimately prejudged her.
‘Bato’ daresDe 5: Name source first
Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald dela Rosa yesterday challenged de Lima to name her source in identifying Special Assistant to the President Secretary Christopher “Bong” Go as the person who called for the reinstatement of Supt. Marvin Marcos.
This, as Dela Rosa denied De Lima’s claims that Go had called him for the reinstatement of Marcos as chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Region 8 (CIDG-8).
In exchange for de Lima revealing her source, dela Rosa vowed to name his “kumpare”.
“She should say first who was her source, I will identify my kumpare who made the request to me,” he told reporters.
“It’s not him (Go)…I have a kumpare who called,” he added.
Dela Rosa on Tuesday admitted that his kumpare asked him to reinstate Marcos and his group for humanitarian reasons –stressing that their transfer from Leyte to Manila would be hard for their families.
He, however, did not name his kumpare, but the senator, citing her cliamed sources, pointed to Go.
Go has branded de Lima’s claims as “pure hearsay” as he stressed that he has never met Marcos personally.
Leila backs off
Senator de Lima refused to meet the challenge posed to her by dela Rosa to attest on the veracity of her claims against President Duterte’s aide, Bong Go.
“I will not and will never disclose my source. That information was given to me in confidence. I cannot breach the confidence accorded me by my source,” the senator, responding to the pronouncements of dela Rosa, said yesterday.
De Lima turned the tables on the PNP chief saying that dela Rosa should instead come clean by giving a full account on how he agreed to the reinstatement of Region 8 Criminal Detection and Investigation Group (CIDG) chief Supt. Marvin Marcos.
“I dare General Bato to disclose to us who is that personality/ official ‘higher’ than him, if it’s not Bong Go, who gave the order to reinstate Marcos,” she said.
“The duty to disclose belongs to him and not to me since he was the one who revealed the giving of the order,” said De Lima.
De Lima earlier referred to the President’s aide as the alleged person responsible in reinstating Marcos, who was already relieved from his post prior to the killing on Albuera Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. citing sources supposedly coming from the ranks of the PNP.
It’s an open secret among PNP officials, she claimed, on the involvement of Go and a number of the ranking police officers frowned upon the decision of dela Rosa, insinuating discontent of immediate subordinates of the PNP chief. With Mario J. Mallari