MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila de Lima questioned the filing of the drug trafficking case against her before the Department of Justice (DOJ), saying justice under Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II is “fake.”
De Lima, former justice secretary, said the petitioner – the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption – should have filed the case before the Office of the Ombudsman and not the DOJ.
“Tanong ko, bakit sa DOJ ifa-file? Ano maasahan na hustisya diyan? Na isa sa pangunahin na gumagawa ng peke, na mismong DOJ secretary,” De Lima told reporters on Tuesday, October 11.
(My question is: Why file it before the DOJ? What justice can I get there? Where the one leading in the fabrication of evidence against me is the DOJ secretary himself.)
“So sana po pag-isipan po ng mga complainants na ‘yan sa tamang venue. Since I’m a sitting senator, given my salary grade, dapat po sa Ombudsman, at hindi sa DOJ,” she added.
(So I hope the complainants think about filing it in the proper venue. Since I’m a sitting senator, given my salary grade, it should have been filed before the Ombudsman and not the DOJ.)
De Lima said the case should have been filed with the Ombudsman since the DOJ would eventually submit it to the Ombudsman for further investigation. She suggested that the complainants might have other reasons for filing it with the DOJ, which, she alleged, is headed by the “master of fakery.”
“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,” De Lima said in a separate statement.
Aguirre has echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s attacks against De Lima and has pooled witnesses to testify against the senator in the congressional inquiry. The witnesses are mostly convicts granted immunity from suit. (READ: LIST: Witnesses vs De Lima who were granted immunity)
Better than kangaroo court
Despite this, De Lima said the filing of a case was a better move than just publicly crucifying her at the House probe. At least now, she said, she could answer the allegations at the proper forum and not just some “kangaroo court,” a term she regularly used to describe the House probe.
“Mas gusto ko po ‘yan na may formal na kaso na sinasampa pero dapat ho isampa sa tamang venue. Mas gusto ko po ‘yan may mga kaso kaysa mga ganyan, kaysa sa constant pag-crucify nila sa akin sa House inquiry na ‘yan,” De Lima said.
(I like it better that there is a formal case against me but it should be filed in the proper venue. It’s better than constantly crucifying me in that House inquiry.)
The VACC has filed a case against De Lima and 7 others for allegedly “conspiring” to perpetuate the illegal drug trade at the Bilibid, the same subject of the House probe against the senator.
At the House of Representatives, De Lima’s party mates said the VACC case appears to be “compromised” as it is premised on the testimonies of witnesses presented at the congressional inquiry, and would be decided upon by the very official who had made the same allegation against the senator.
In a news briefing of the Liberal Party-led House minority bloc, Albay First District Representative Edcel Lagman noted that the witnesses at the House probe were mostly convicts, and included members of the National Bureau of Investigation who are all under the jurisdiction of the DOJ.
“The witnesses, who are either inmates or [National Bureau of Investigation] officials were all under the jurisdiction of the secretary of justice….The case was filed before the Department of Justice and who will rule it? The [justice secretary],” said Lagman.
The LP congressmen again slammed the House probe as nothing more than a “publicity stunt” focused solely on De Lima, the fiercest critic of the President in the Senate, and not in aid of legislation. (READ: The public trial of Leila de Lima)
“For me, it was a publicity stunt and [gives] a chilling effect to the administration’s critics that this is what will happen to you,” said Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr.
Why only during De Lima’s time?
For his part, Caloocan Second District Representative Edgar Erice wondered aloud why the probe only considered the period when De Lima was justice secretary.
“[Ang] affidavit ng drug lords puro si De Lima. How about the time na iba ‘yung secretary of justice? Bakit lahat ng affidavit nila Secretary de Lima. Ang committee na ito ay nag-iimbestiga hindi proliferation ng drugs, ang iniimbestiga si [De Lima],” Erice said. (READ: Illegal trade in Bilibid: Up to P100M goes around every day – witness)
(All the affidavits of the drug lords are about De Lima. How about the time of other secretaries of justice? Why are all of their affidavits about Secretary De Lima? The committee is not investigating the proliferation of drugs, it is investigating De Lima.)
During one hearing of the House committee on justice, Police Director Benjamin Magalong, PNP deputy chief for operations, had said that the proliferation of illegal drugs at the Bilibid did not begin during the previous administration but happened as early as 2002, when Peter Co was convicted of drug trafficking.
Northern Samar First District Representative Raul Daza, for his part, said the proceeding was “unparliamentary.” He also said that it was the “first time in history” of the Congress that one chamber investigated a member of another chamber.
“There should not be any process wherein House members would investigate a senator in the same way that a senator should not investigate a congressman,” said the longtime legislator in Filipino. – With a report from Patty Pasion/Rappler.com