In nearly 3-year drug trial, DOJ yet to submit AMLC report vs De Lima

MANILA, Philippines – The camp of Senator Leila de Lima is pressing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to present in court the alleged Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report that would supposedly implicate the opposition lawmaker in the New Bilibid Prison drug trade.

According to De Lima's lawyer Filibon Tacardon, Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Leilia Llanes told Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 last Friday, November 22, that the AMLC report "is still a work in progress."

"Either the AMLC report is being manufactured and tailor-made to suit the requirements of the prosecution, or the DOJ is simply engaged in a drawn-out fishing expedition, in the absence of any bank transaction documents proving that De Lima indeed received proceeds of the drug trade," Tacardon said.

Aside from the supposed AMLC report, former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II claimed during the 2016 House hearings that bank deposits to De Lima would also pin down the senator.

The De Lima camp has been urging the 3 Muntinlupa City courts to subpoena the bank accounts, supposedly with BDO, but the DOJ said the bank accounts were no longer necessary.

"Llanes stipulated that the 3 BDO accounts identified by government witnesses Nonilo Arile, Engelberto Durano, and German Agojo as the accounts allegedly used to deposit De Lima's alleged share in the proceeds of the drug trade are not in De Lima's name," the De Lima camp said in a statement on Tuesday, November 26.

"Because of this, the prosecutors told the court that the subpoena for the details of said BDO accounts being requested by De Lima's lawyers is no longer necessary," they added.

De Lima's former staff at the DOJ also denied owning bank accounts where millions of pesos were allegedy deposited in 2014.

De Lima is accused of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade for allegedly inducing convicts to trade drugs inside Bilibid to raise funds for her 2016 senatorial campaign.

Almost 3 years since she was jailed, the DOJ has yet to produce physical evidence against De Lima, relying mostly so far on testimonies of convicts.

Aside from convicts, government witnesses against De Lima include suspect-turned-witness Rafael Ragos, former officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections, who claimed to have delivered drug money to De Lima at her Parañaque City residence.

But according to former Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group chief Benjamin Magalong, a prosecution witness, their intelligence reports at the time pointed to Ragos as the one being involved in the drug trade.

De Lima didn't turn up in their intelligence gathering, Magalong said.

The continued detention of De Lima, upheld by the Supreme Court in a 9-6 ruling, has been slammed by retired justice Antonio Carpio as "one of the grossest injustices ever perpetrated in recent memory in full view of the Filipino nation and the entire world." – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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