Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday questioned the filing of drug trafficking charges against her before the Department of Justice (DOJ), saying it was not the proper venue.
In a statement released to the media, De Lima said the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and lawyer Ferdinand Topacio should file the complaint against her before the Office of the Ombudsman.
"The lawyers of VACC and Atty. Topacio should know that such a case against me for acts done while Secretary of Justice should be filed with the Ombudsman," she said.
De Lima said that while the DOJ may initially take cognizance of the case, it would still be eventually filed with the Office of the Ombudsman for another round of fact-finding investigation.
She was referring to the memorandum of agreement on investigation and prosecution of cases involving state officials and employees signed in 2012 by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and De Lima herself.
Under the agreement, the DOJ will immediately endorse to the Ombudsman for investigation cases within the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan such as graft, bribery, and cases involving government officials and employees with Salary Grade 27 or higher.
Specifically, these cases involve violation of Republic Act 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards), RA 7080 (Plunder Law), RA 7659 (Heinous Crime Law), RA 9160 (violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Law when committed by a public officer), Presidential Decree 46 (Prohibition Against Gift-Giving), and PD 749 (law granting immunity to bribe givers who voluntarily give information).
De Lima was under Salary Grade 31 when she was DOJ secretary from June 2010 to October 2015.
"In the meantime, the complainants would have wasted time by filing it with the DOJ. In the interest of the speedy administration of justice, they should have directly filed this complaint with the Ombudsman, not the DOJ,” De Lima, a former DOJ secretary, said.
“Unless they have other reasons for filing it with the DOJ instead of the Ombudsman. Maybe because that is the domain of Aguirre, the master of fakery. Justice under Aguirre is fake,” she added.
Apart from De Lima, also charged by the VACC with sale of illegal drugs and conspiracy to commit drug trade under Republic Act 9165 were:
- former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III;
- former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu;
- De Lima's former security aides Ronnie Dayan, Joenel Sanchez and Jose Adrian Dera alias Jad De Vera;
- Bucayu's staff and alleged bagman Col. Wilfredo Ely; and
- high profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian
The complaints were prepared by Topacio, counsel of inmate Herbert Colanggo. It will undergo preliminary investigation by DOJ prosecutors who will determine if there is probable cause to press charges in court.
De Lima also challenged her other critics to file their charges against her directly with the Office of the Ombudsman.
She said the move to accuse her before the courts was “most welcome.”
“Instead of stoning me in a House inquiry, they should start filing cases in the proper venue,” she said.
De Lima is being tagged in the alleged prison drug trade inside the New Bilbid Prison. Several inmates have testified against her in congressional hearings for supposedly collecting drug money to fund her senatorial campaign. —Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez and Virgil Lopez/KBK, GMA News