MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Leila de Lima was charged before the Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday for her alleged links to the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
In a criminal complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), the senator was accused of violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act by allegedly conspiring with several other officials in the previous administration and high-profile NBP inmates in the drug trade during her stint as DOJ secretary.
“Sen. de Lima utilized her power and authority as then secretary of justice to abet and even promote the proliferation of massive drug trade inside the Bilibid,” alleged the complaint filed by VACC founding chair Dante Jimenez through lawyer Ferdinand Topacio.
Citing the testimonies of witnesses in the House of Representatives’ inquiry on the proliferation of illegal drugs in the NBP, the anti-crime watchdog said De Lima “through her authority as the secretary of justice was able to put in position her cohorts at the BuCor (Bureau of Corrections) to enable her to maneuver the drug trade.”
“Her influence and power likewise offered respondents in this case shield and protection to ensure the invisibility in the conduct of their illegal trade; in this same manner that she was also able to eliminate the competitors of Jaybee (Sebastian) inside the prison by having them transferred to the NBI,” the VACC said, referring to the high-profile inmate.
The VACC alleged the illegal drug trade in the NBP involved conspiracy among several officials and inmates who were also named respondents in the charge sheet – former DOJ undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, former BuCor chief Franklin Bucayu, De Lima’s former aides Ronnie Dayan, Joenel Sanchez and Jose Adrian Dera, Bucayu’s alleged bagman Wilfredo Ely and Sebastian.
Between 2012 and 2016, respondents, conspiring and confederating with one another, engaged in the sale and trade of illegal drugs inside and outside the Bilibid,” read the complaint.
“The act of one is the act of all. The mastermind was De Lima,” Topacio told reporters after the filing of the complaint at the DOJ.
Topacio said De Lima and the respondents were specifically charged with violation of Section 5 (sale and trading of illegal drugs) in relation to Section 26 (b) (conspiracy) of Republic Act 9165.
The said offenses involve penalties of life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million upon conviction.
The VACC submitted to the DOJ as bases of the complaint the sworn affidavits and testimonies of several officials led by National Bureau of Investigation deputy director Rafael Ragos and several high-profile inmates led by robbery convict Herbert Colanggo in the House inquiry.
The witnesses have claimed De Lima received millions in cash from the drug money raised by high-profile inmates to support her senatorial campaign in the elections last May.
De Lima allegedly used her authority to appoint officials inside BuCor and NBP to protect illegal drug transactions in the national penitentiary.
Baraan also allegedly received millions and was in charge of transfer of inmates who would not cooperate with the drug trade, while Bucayu supposedly collected the drug money for higher-ups.
On the other hand, Sebastian was tagged by Colanggo and other inmates as the alleged “fund raiser” of De Lima.
Sebastian denied the allegation when he faced the House inquiry on Monday, but admitted giving P10 million to De Lima.
Dayan and Sanchez were tagged as bagmen of De Lima.
The VACC believed that Colanggo and other witnesses were able to give details on how the illegal drug trade operated inside the NBP upon the protection and intervention of De Lima with the help of other respondents.
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