MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II is eyeing charges against Sen. Leila De Lima for her alleged links to the drug trade inside national penitentiary Bilibid.
Aguirre said the De Lima may face cases for violations of the laws against illegal drugs and graft practices based on affidavits of witnesses, among whom are convicted drug lords locked up at Bilibid.
"Pwede na mag-file ng complaint (against De Lima) based only on the affidavits, and this could undergo a preliminary investigation," Aguirre said at a televised news conference.
Aguirre said there are 30 witnesses to De Lima's illegal transactions with drug personalities. Five of them will be presented at the House of Representatives hearing on Tuesday.
High-profile inmates Jaybee Sebastian and Herbert Colangco testify to the senator's alleged deals to earn funds for her election campaign, Aguirre said.
"We will try to do it orderly and present witnesses who would be questioned." Aguirre said.
Refusing to attend the Congress inquiry, De Lima, meanwhile, dismissed the allegations of the witnesses as a "sham" demolition campaign staged by the administration.
De Lima, a top critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, is conducting a separate Senate inquiry into drug related killings. The probe's last session presented a confessed hired gun who claimed Duterte has ordered the deaths of thousands in Davao City as mayor.
De Lima earlier said she has received information that several inmates were accessed by the administration to fabricate testimonies and evidence against her.
Aguirre claimed the witnesses to be presented at the Congress hearing do not have an ax to grind against the senator, and have volunteered to testify.
"Wala kaming ipinangako, wala kaming ibinigay, hindi sila tinakot, hindi sila binayaran para mag testify tomorrow." Aguirre added.