House probe report a sham, says De Lima
Sen. Leila de Lima scored on Wednesday the House committee report on the Bilibid drug trade as a “sham conclusion,” citing the irony of deciding not to recommend her prosecution even while claiming to have found “sufficient evidence against her.”
“If they believe the evidence is sufficient, they should recommend my prosecution. So what’s that?” De Lima said, adding that the lack of a recommendation for prosecution “means there is no evidence.”
“But now they’re saying there is sufficient evidence and not recommending prosecution. So that is ironic, that is self-contradictory,” she said.
She said the committee clearly only established “sufficient lies.”
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said he was puzzled but he would not “take issue” with the House justice committee report since the probe was done in aid of legislation.
“Everybody points to De Lima, it follows the report should have recommended her prosecution—just like other congressional reports when there is a finding that a criminal offense was committed,” Aguirre said.
On Tuesday, justice committee chairperson Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro approved its report without identifying De Lima and other officials of the Department of Justice (DOJ), National Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Corrections who were culpable on drug protection charges.
Minority Leader Danilo Suarez criticized the report which he said should have recommended the filing of plunder, graft and violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act against De Lima and her alleged conspirators.
The DOJ trotted out several witnesses during the marathon hearings of the justice committee, including 12 high-profile inmates. They accused De Lima of receiving millions in bribes to finance her campaign in exchange for allowing the drug lords to continue to operate.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano revealed that five of the inmates—Engelberto Durano, Nonilo Arile, Jaime Patcho, Jojo Baligad, and Vicente Sy—had pending applications for executive clemency, which might explain their testimonies against De Lima.
But Aguirre said he was unaware of their applications for executive clemency during the Aquino administration.
“We should not lose sight of the fact that all of them were there to shed light on why drugs proliferated at Bilibid and who were the government officials responsible for the proliferation or who profited from it,” Aguirre said. “That is the core issue here.” —WITH REPORTS FROM GIL CABACUNGAN AND NIKKO DIZON
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