WATCH | DOJ files drug raps vs De Lima at Munti RTC as CA denies her plea for TRO
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(UPDATED W/VIDEO) MANILA - The Department of Justice on Friday formally filed charges with a Muntinlupa court against Sen. Leila de Lima for alleged violation of the comprehensive dangerous drugs law, blaming her for the flourishing prison drug trade during her watch at DOJ.
News of the filing came just hours after the Court of Appeals sixth special division declined to issue a temporary restraining order that de Lima had sought to stop DOJ from investigating her. She had asserted that only the Ombudsman has jurisdiction over her.
The DOJ filed three drug complaints with the Muntinlupa regional trial court.
The complaints filed by the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption, the NBI, former NBI officials, and high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian were earlier consolidated.
The case is non-bailable, but de Lima had early this week announced she heard the DOJ was hell-bent on putting her in jail, and she was prepared to face the worst.
LP senators react
The Liberal Party senators, in a joint statement, slammed the “patently illegal filing of criminal cases” against De Lima.
Following is the full text of the joint statement:
"The Liberal Party slams the patently illegal filing of of criminal cases against Sen. Leila De Lima before the Regional Trial Court.
"The Sandiganbayan, not the RTC, has jurisdiction over the case as the alleged wrongdoing were supposedly committed when she was Justice Secretary.
"We reiterate that an arrest based on trumped-up charges is illegal. Furthermore, Senator De Lima was not able to file her counter-affidavit so we question whatever ruling the Department of Justice issued without hearing her side of the story.
"We appeal for total impartiality in the dispensation of justice. Senator De Lima has been pre-judged before any of the charges were filed as no less than the President vowed to destroy her in public and was sure De Lima would land in jail before any case was filed. Secretary Aguirre, being the alter ego of the President, should inhibit in any and all cases filed against Senator De Lima.
"We assert that the Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction over cases against public officers cognizable by the Sandiganbayan. Violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act, which is the DOJ's case against Sen. De Lima, falls under "other offenses committed by public officials" listed in the Sandiganbayan Law.
"We maintain that if this warrant of arrest is served, it would be a clear violation of legal proceedings and is therefore a violation of her Constitutional right to due process."
Setback at CA
A Court of Appeals special division earlier rejected de Lima's application for a temporary restraining order to stop the Department of Justice investigation meant to pin her down on alleged violation of laws related to illegal drugs.
The 3-page resolution dated Feb. 10 and written by CA Associate Justice Nina Antonio Valenzuela said de Lima failed to prove she will suffer irreparable injury if a TRO is not issued.
Only de Lima's urgent prayer for the issuance of a TRO was denied.
The CA Special Sixth Division has yet to decide on the petition for prohibition and certiorari, and has directed the DOJ to comment on the petition in 10 days.
De Lima in turn would have 10 days to comment on the DOJ's submission.
De Lima, herself a former Justice secretary, had claimed the DOJ was biased against her right from the start, and therefore no fair outcome could be expected from this investigation.
Pending with the DOJ are five drug-related complaints and one graft complaint against de Lima in connection with the Bilibid drug trade.
De Lima has two pending petitions with CA.
The DOJ is expected to issue a resolution on whether it finds probable cause to elevate a case against de Lima before the courts or the Ombudsman.
De Lima had said the DOJ has no right to investigate her, as the only entity legally mandated to handle cases such as hers is the Office of the Ombudsman.
The DOJ had been building up a case against de Lima for allegedly allowing - when she was Justice secretary in the Aquino administration - the illegal drugs trade to flourish in the national penitentiary. She supposedly received money from high-profile inmates to boost her campaign coffers for her Senate candidacy.
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Besides de Lima, the DOJ also filed charges against her former DOJ-era driver-bodyguard-lover Ronnie Dayan, former NBI deputy director Rafael Ragos, former Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Bucayu, high-profile Bilibid inmate Jaybee Sebastian, former de Lima aide Joenel Sanchez, Wilfredo Elly and Jose Adrian Dera.
The DOJ, however, cleared Bilibid inmates and drug lords of involvement in the Bilibid drug trade. Instead, the prosecution will tap as witnesses against de Lima: the colorful convict and self-styled recording artist Herbert Colanggo; and Peter Co, Engelberto Durano, Vicente Sy and Jojo Baligad.
These five, who had earlier appeared at House hearing on the prison drug trade, will be used to testify against de Lima.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre claimed he did not meddle in the work of the prosecution, but believes de Lima will be convicted based on the strength of the case.
The case is non -bailable because the penalty is reclusion perpetua.
The judge must still determine probable cause before issuing a warrant of arrest, but de LIma's camp had been on alert since last week.
Meanwhile, the DOJ threw out a drug complaint against de Lima and Kerwin Espinosa over the former's alleged acceptance of drug money from Kerwin.
Former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan was also cleared, in absence of strong proof.