High-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian on Friday filed graft and criminal charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Senator Leila De Lima and former prison officials.
The complaints involve the following issues:
- the alleged complicity of De Lima, former Justice Secretary, in the proliferation of illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in exchange for campaign funds;
- De Lima's claim that Sebastian was a government asset inside the national penitentiary, and
- Sebastian's transfer from the maximum security compound to Building 14 despite threats to his life.
Specifically, De Lima was charged with violation of Section 3 of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019; Section 5 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act 6713); the Anti Torture Act (Republic Act 9745); An Act Punishing the Receiving and Giving of Gifts of Public Officials and Employees (Presidential Decree 46) and indirect bribery.
Also charged were former Bureau of Corrections chief Ricardo Rainier Cruz and former NBP head Richard Schwarzkopf Jr.
Cruz and Schwarzkopf, however, were not included in the complaints for indirect bribery and violation of PD 46.
The complaints were filed by Roxanne Sebastian on her husband's behalf.
In response, De Lima said Sebastian was coerced to file the charges against her.
"I believe that, just like his appearance at the House inquiry, Sebastian has been coerced to file that so-called complaint. It's a matter of life and death for him. He's just fulfilling his part of the bargain with the evil forces, so they don't touch him," she said in a text message.
De Lima did not say who these "evil forces" are even as the Duterte government believes she is involved in illegal drugs.
The senator also said filing the charges before the DOJ and not with the Office of the Ombudsman, which prosecutes elected government officials allegedly involved in crimes, was "all part of their insidious scheme and sinister agenda to railroad the outcome of those cases."
“The administration is just using its homecourt advantage, which they do not have if the complaint is filed with the Ombudsman," she said.
According to Sebastian, it was De Lima who instructed him to pool drug money to be used in her senatorial campaign.
The convicted kidnapper said his life has been put in danger since he was moved to Building 14, which houses high profile inmates who allegedly suspected him of divulging information about their illegal activities.
Sebastian added that the stabbing incident that left him injured on September 28 occurred after De Lima claimed on national television that he was a government asset.
"Had the respondents, De Lima, Cruz and Schwarzkopf acted favorably on the request to maintain/retain him at the maximum security compound and had respondent De Lima not disclosed to the public that Mr. Sebastian was a government asset and was the source of the information on the illegal drug trade at New Bilibid Prison, he would not have been exposed to threats and dangers to his life," the complaint read.
The inmate also claimed suffering from mental torture while under "solitary confinement."
"The worst of them all, he told the wife and his children that his deceased father, grandfather and maternal uncle talked to and prevailed upon him in his dreams to emulate and join them by putting a tragic end to his life," the complaint stated.
De Lima already has two pending complaints related to the NBP drug trade before the DOJ.
The senator has repeatedly denied the allegation that she protected drug syndicates inside the NBP in exchange for funds for her 2016 campaign.
She accused the government of fabricating evidence and coercing witnesses to testify against her, especially in the inquiry launched by the House of Representatives, which she refused to attend. — VVP, GMA News