Senator Leila De Lima on Monday said the reported death of New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmate Jaybee Sebastian due to COVID-19 is still being studied by her legal camp to determine whether or not it will have an impact on the drug charges filed against her.
"My lawyers are still assessing the effect of Sebastian’s death on the cases against me, considering that he is or was the Duterte regime’s supposed 'star' witness," De Lima, detained in Camp Crame, said in a statement.
"However, all testimonies coming from the inmates and some other so-called witnesses are all fabrications anyway. One less fabrication might be good in my case, but let us not forget all the other testimony fabrications," she added.
It was reported over the weekend that an inmate named Jaybee Sebastian died at the NBP Hospital.
Justice Undersecretary Markk Perete confirmed on Monday that Sebastian was among the 21 persons deprived of liberty (PDL) who succumbed to COVID-19.
In October 2016, Sebastian tagged De Lima as a protector of illegal drug operations at Bilibid.
The senator and former Justice Secretary said Sebastian has just been "pressured" to testify against her.
Almost four years later, De Lima maintained that allegations of her involvement in the illegal drug trade were all made up.
"The Duterte regime can have 100 live witnesses for all I care. But this still does not change the fact that the charges against me are absolutely false and fictitious," she said.
"Conversely, the regime’s witnesses can all be dead, but this will not prevent Duterte and his operators from inventing other evidence to keep me in jail... I will not wonder if dead witnesses can still be made to rise from the grave and made to testify," she added.
Meanwhile, De Lima lamented the dire conditions of PDLs in the country's jails. She said the sector should have been given attention even before the pandemic.
"COVID-19 is not a joke, as the Duterte regime has treated it, especially in our prison system that hosts the perfect conditions for the spread of the virus," she said.
"Regardless of who the dead are, whether free citizens or PDLs, they shall remain to be counted as the victims of the incompetence, indifference, and impunity of the Duterte Administration in dealing with the pandemic," she added.
According to the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Corrections welcomed the independent probe that will be conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation on the matter. —LDF, GMA News