‘All roads in Bilibid drug trade lead to De Lima’—lawyer
While the House committee on justice did not recommend criminal or administrative case against Senator Leila De Lima, “all the roads” in the proliferation of illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) lead to the senator, a lawyer said Thursday.
Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, counsel for several inmates who testified against De Lima, said contrary to the senator’s claim, the findings of the House committee on justice did not say that there is no evidence against her.
“There is no recommendation saying not to pursue [a case against De Lima]. They (House committee on justice) declined to make any recommendation,” Topacio told reporters.
“Senator De Lima only put a spin on the House committee’s findings by making it appear that there is no evidence against her. This is not true,” Topacio said.
Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali earlier said there is no recommendation on the filing of charges against De Lima because it is not the goal of their investigation.
He explained that prosecution is an executive function while the purpose of a congressional inquiry is in aid of legislation.
Topacio said while “some people were disappointed, but for us we will respect that (report) and that is already a good achievement of the House committee on justice. We should respect the committee’s decision since principal aim of the probe was in aid of legislation.”
“We would have wanted (recommendation for criminal indictment) but since there’s none, we are happy that the purpose has been served, which is to enlighten the public, enlighten the members of the committee and which will hopefully lead to legislation that would prevent others from doing what Senator De Lima did,” Topacio said.
Topacio said the House probe was very significant as it provided testimonies that could bolster the drug trafficking charges filed against De Lima before the Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier this month by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and lawyer of several inmates who implicated the senator, which he also represented.
Among the key findings of the committee probe were the proliferation of illegal drug trade in the NBP during De Lima’s stint as secretary of justice, that his driver and alleged lover Ronnie Dayan served as her bagman and that drug money was raised by inmates for her senatorial campaign.
“We will use these evidence gathered in the House inquiry in the preliminary investigation in the DOJ. The witnesses just need to appear before the DOJ and personally subscribe again to their affidavits,” he explained.
Among the clients of Topacio that testified in the House inquiry were NBP inmates were Herbert Colanggo, Jojo Baligad, Joel Capones, German Agojo, Jerry Pepino and Noel Martinez. RAM/rga