DOJ: Bank docs, witnesses to prove De Lima drug links

Camille Elemia
DOJ: Bank docs, witnesses to prove De Lima drug links
But Senator Leila De Lima is confident the alleged evidence against her would be unable to pin her down

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it has witnesses and bank documents to prove Senator Leila De Lima’s alleged links to drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday, August 25, said the DOJ has so far 6 witnesses and bank documents against the former justice chief. The evidence, he said, would also be presented during the House probe.

“We hope to take at least 6 witnesses’ affidavits. They will be presented during the House investigation on the proliferation of illegal drugs in NBP,” Aguirre said after the initial budget briefing of the DOJ at the Senate.

“One witness is already finished with his statement. Meron pa mga bank account kung saan nag-deposito ng pera (There are also bank accounts where money was deposited),” Aguirre added.

The DOJ chief, however, said the bank documents are not under De Lima’s name, implying there were dummy accounts involved.

“Kasi ‘yung pinagdeposituhan ‘di sa pangalan nila. Basta sinabi lang nila dun dineposit sa account na ‘yun,” he said.

(The account where the money was deposited was not under their name. They just said that they are depositing the money there.)

Asked about the witnesses’ profiles, Aguirre said some are inmates, prison guards, and former friends of the neophyte senator. (READ: Duterte’s info on De Lima not from PNP – Dela Rosa)

“We will go to the details after these affidavits have been submitted to me. Nahihirapan inmates kasi delikado ang buhay nila sa loob. (The inmates are having a hard time because their lives are in danger.) They will be known as [the] source of documents,” Aguirre said, adding the DOJ is considering separating the witnesses from the general jail population.

Once drug links are proven, Aguirre said they would file graft or drug charges against De Lima. (READ: Duterte to De Lima: ‘It’s beyond your control’)

Fake?

De Lima, for her part, remained confident that the alleged evidence would not link her to drugs.

“Sabi ko nga ano man ebidensya niyan wala silang mapapakita diyan na konektado ako, absolutely none,” the senator said.

(Like I said, whatever evidence they have, it won’t show my connection to drugs. Absolutely none.)

She denied that she had bagmen who delivered the money obtained from drug lords inside Bilibid.

“Of course, I cannot speak for the others, pero mahirap paniwalaan na meron nagse-serve sakin as bagmen… but I can actually speak for myself. Pero ang pinaka-questionable dito is pinipilit nilang iniinvolve, pinipilit nilang dinadawit,” she said.

(Of course, I cannot speak for the others, but it’s difficult to believe I have bagmen… But I can actually speak for myself. But the most questionable thing here is that they keep on insisting, they keep on dragging my name into the controversy.)

“Kasi alam ko psy (psychological) war nga ito. ‘Yung sowing intrigues,” the senator added.

(Because I know this is a psychological war. They’re sowing intrigues.)

De Lima earlier cried foul over the drug accusations, saying whatever evidence that will be presented against her must be fake. (READ: De Lima pleads for ex-driver: ‘Huwag ninyo siyang galawin’)

But Aguirre cautioned De Lima against jumping into such conclusions.

“Well, before you say that dapat makita mo muna ebidensya (you should first see the evidence). Paano mo masasabi na fake ‘yun? (How can you say it’s fake?) You could not say it’s fake unless you have seen the evidence,” Aguirre said.

The DOJ and the House of Representatives are keen on investigating the proliferation of drugs inside the Bilibid during De Lima’s term as justice chief.

President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly accused De Lima of being involved in illegal drugs. Duterte released a matrix showing that the senator was the top government official linked to drugs inside the NBP. (READ: De Lima denies Duterte drug matrix: ‘It’s garbage’– Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com