MANILA — Calling her the “mother of all drug lords,” two former subordinates of Sen. Leila de Lima, whom she had sacked from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), filed on Thursday another criminal complaint against her over the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).
The case filed in the Department of Justice (DOJ) by former NBI deputy directors Ruel Lasala and Reynaldo Esmeralda came two days after the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption brought a similar complaint against De Lima.
Then the justice secretary, De Lima ordered the relief of Lasala and Esmeralda in March 2014 for their supposed close relationship with suspected pork barrel scam architect Janet Lim Napoles.
De Lima had shunned all insinuations linking her to the sale and distribution of illicit substances, saying she was being pilloried for bringing up the issue of rising extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
Also included as respondent in the case was former NBI officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, who had told the House of Representatives’ justice committee that he had personally delivered millions of pesos in protection money from drug lords being held at the state penitentiary to De Lima’s house in Parañaque City .
“Sen. De Lima, acting as the mother of all drug lords and through the use of her authority, was able to appoint and designate men inside the (NBP) in order to ensure the perpetuation of illegal drug trade,” the former NBI officials said in their joint complaint-affidavit.
Speaking with reporters after filing the 20-page complaint, Esmeralda maintained that the case had nothing to do with their unceremonious exit from the NBI, the primary law enforcement unit of the DOJ.
“The pieces of evidence we have gathered are complete. It’s about time for us to file these charges before the (DOJ) also for her to be afforded due process,” the former NBI official said in a mix of English and Filipino.
“As early as 2012, we already know the information (of De Lima’s involvement in the drug trade),” he claimed. “That’s precisely (the reason) why we were removed from the NBI. We knew of the deliveries of money in her house in Parañaque. But it was confirmed only this September (during the House hearing).”
He said they felt it was “useless” to spill the beans on their former boss then “because she was very powerful at the time.”
Said Lasala: “We actually thank De Lima because if she did not relieve us, we could have been included in this case.”
In a complaint prepared by lawyer Eduardo Bringas, the former NBI officials said the testimonies of NBI agent Jovencio Ablen Jr. and convict Jojo Baligad showed that De Lima and Ragos violated Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
They said the pair “acted in conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade” and that “in concerted effort, engaged in illegal drug trading and trafficking inside the NBP.”
“Like hungry wolves, they took advantage of their power, influence and resources,” read a portion of the complaint.