House minority bloc recommends filing of raps vs. De Lima
By XIANNE ARCANGEL, GMA News
The House minority bloc has recommended the filing of graft, bribery, and drug-related charges against Senator Leila de Lima in connection with her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
In a 15-page report released Thursday, the minority group of lawmakers led by Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said De Lima should be held liable for supposedly being the coddler and protector of drug traffickers and drug lords, in violation of Section 8 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The bloc said she should also be charged for violation of Section 27 of RA 9165 for allegedly receiving money from drug lords.
In addition to the aforementioned charges, minority lawmakers said De Lima can also be charged for violating Section 7 of Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, which prohibits government officials from accepting gifts or money.
At a press conference, Suarez said their group will report their recommendations on De Lima’s prosecution to the plenary when sessions resume in November.
The House justice committee concluded that De Lima was involved in the drug trade inside the NBP but passed the responsibility of possibly filing charges against her to the Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman.
In its report, the minority bloc cited the testimony of NBP inmate Engelbert Durano as basis for the filing of drug-related charges against De Lima.
During the committee hearing, Durano claimed that the senator’s former driver, Ronnie Dayan, told him he could help protect his business if they helped the then-Justice Secretary raise funds for her 2016 senatorial bid.
Another witness, Joel Capones, also testified to working with convicted kidnapper Jaybee Sebastian so that the drug trade inside the national penitentiary will continue under De Lima’s protection in exchange for giving her money.
“These facts tend to show that De Lima was being given money in exchange for ‘protection’ of the business of drug lords,” the minority group said.
According to the minority group’s report, De Lima should also be held liable for bribery for supposedly receiving multimillion-peso bribes from NBP inmates involved in the illegal drug trade while she was justice secretary.
Minority lawmakers said a charge for violating Section 8 of RA 3019 or the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act should also be filed against De Lima for allegedly granting special privileges to drug lords inside the NBP.
In an interview with reporters, De Lima said the minority bloc led by Suarez is not a "genuine" opposition group at the House of Representatives.
"Kunwari lang 'yan na mga opposition or minority with due respect to them. May mga sariling agenda rin 'yan and some of them are so passionate about vilifying me in the course of the House inquiry," De Lima said.
De Lima has repeatedly denied any involvement in the illegal drugs trade. She earlier described the House proceedings as a sham. — with Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez/RSJ, GMA News