De Lima lawyers looking at effect of Sebastian’s death to her drug cases
MANILA, Philippines — Claiming that testimonies against her are “all fabricated anyway,” detained Senator Leila de Lima on Monday said her lawyers are assessing the effects of the death of high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian on the drug-related charges against her.
“My lawyers are still assessing the effect of Sebastian’s death on the cases against me, considering that he is or was the Duterte regime’s supposed ‘star’ witness. However, all testimonies coming from the inmates and some other so-called witnesses are all fabrications anyway,” De Lima said in a dispatch from Camp Crame.
“One less fabrication might be good in my case, but let us not forget all the other testimony fabrications. Whether the fabricator is dead or alive does not change the fact that their stories are all lies, and that the cases against me are all fake,” she added.
Sebastian was among the high-profile inmates of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City who were reported to have died due to COVID-19. He was the key witness in the Bilibid drug trade and a co-respondent in the drug trafficking cases filed against De Lima.
These cases are now pending before three branches of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court.
De Lima, reacting to Sebastian’s reported death, also decried her continued detention due to what she has repeatedly called were “trumped-up” charges against her.
The senator, who has been detained since February 2017, is one of the Duterte administration’s vocal critics.
“The Duterte regime can have 100 live witnesses for all I care. But this still does not change the fact that the charges against me are absolutely false and fictitious. Conversely, the regime’s witnesses can all be dead, but this will not prevent Duterte and his operators from inventing other evidence to keep me in jail,” De Lima said.
“My point is, under normal conditions, these cases would have been dismissed a long time ago. But under conditions of a dictatorship where it is the dictator himself who has a very personal stake on the cases and given the state of our justice system, I will not wonder if dead witnesses can still be made to rise from the grave and made to testify,” she added.
On the other hand, De Lima raised alarm anew over the “dire conditions” existing in the country’s jails and prisons not only during the ongoing health crisis but even in pre-pandemic times.
“COVID-19 is not a joke, as the Duterte regime has treated it, especially in our prison system that hosts the perfect conditions for the spread of the virus,” she said.
“Regardless of who the dead are, whether free citizens or PDLs (persons deprived of liberty), they shall remain to be counted as the victims of the incompetence, indifference, and impunity of the Duterte administration in dealing with the pandemic that has resulted in more suffering for our people, not to mention the devastation of the economy after months of lockdown but with absolutely nothing to show for it,” she said.
She then called on the whole Duterte administration to “step down” and let Vice President Leni Robredo take over.
“It is time for this whole administration to step down, get out of the way, and hand over the reins of government to the more capable and tireless Vice President,” the senator said.
To date, Philippine health officials have so far confirmed 69,898 COVID-19 cases in the country. Of the number, 23,072 have recovered while 1,835 have died from the disease.
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