By: JV Arcena, News5 | InterAksyon.com
December 19, 2016 3:54 PM
MANILA - The Office of the Solicitor General has joined the legal battle to pin down Sen. Leila de Lima, the President's arch critic whom the Justice department is accusing of having abetted and profited from the prison drug trade in her tenure as Secretary of Justice.
Solicitor General Jose Calida confirmed he will play a role in the campaign against de Lima, who is now abroad for a speaking engagement, at Monday's launch of the Coalition Against Illegal Drugs.
According to Calida, de Lima continues to abuse her powers as senator; hence, the need for him to lend his support to the prosecution.
"I am invoking the Solgen's power as tribune of the people. I will lend the prestige and gravitas of my office to go after de Lima."
Calida added that with the OSG weighing in, the cases against de Lima could be strengthened and will proceed faster.
This is not political persecution prosecution, he stressed, and they are following the rule of law.
Calida, declared the senator "public enemy no. 1 and the patron saint of narco-politics."
He thinks the senator - who was in the US last week to receive an award from human rights groups and addressed a conference on cultural diplomacy in Berlin last weekend - will eventually seek asylum abroad.
Calida graced the launch by various pro-Duterte and anti-drug groups of the Coalition Against Illegal Drugs which has a declared intent to pin down de Lima, allegedly for having used her past role as DOJ chief to abet the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prisons, and raising funds for her maiden Senate campaign for the May 2016 polls.
Among the groups joining the coalition were the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, Citizens Crime Watch, Republic Defenders, United Filipino Seafarers and Conform Federalism.
Also present at the launch and social media influencer and known Duterte supporter Mocha Uson.
According to chairman Dante Jimenez, it is time for the groups fighting illegal drugs to band together for what he described as a crucial point in the campaign.
The coalition hurled this challenge at the DOJ: speed up the investigation of cases against de Lima.
The coalition members said they are deeply dismayed by de Lima's alleged disregard for legal processes.
They pointed to her snubbing the DOJ's preliminary hearing and failure to submit a counter-affidavit.
VACC's Jimenez called on de Lima to return to the country and attend the Dec. 21 (Wednesday) hearing.
The Citizens Crime Watch, however, fears that de Lima will not fly back, given the seriousness of allegations against her.
Jimenez also said they received information the senator will seek asylum in a foreign country, ppossibly in Europe, where she has a sibling.
According to Atty. Larry Gadon of Conform Federalism, the possibility of asylum is bolstered by what he claimed was de Lima's move to seek - supposedly on the sly - a certain visa that would allow her to stay longer, presumably beyond the short period entailed by her speaking engagements in Germany.
The coalition members plan to hold a vigil sa at DOJ Tuesday (Dec. 20), starting from 5pm to 8pm, or hours before the start of the preliminary investigation hearing on Dec. 21.
According to Jimenez, if de Lima fails to attend the Dec. 21 hearing, that will bolster their suspicion that she has no plans of returning.