By: Roy Bersales
SENATOR Leila de Lima on Thursday expressed disappointment through her face while a Senate Committee investigating the death of Albuera Leyte Mayor Rolaldo Espinosa Sr. as her name was mentioned once again as one of those who received drug money from the Espinosa drug syndicate, but the neophyte lawmaker blew her top as she learned that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) strongly recommended to the Department of Justice (DOJ) to file five criminal charges against her.
The NBI asserted that De Lima was guilty of violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (Republic Act 3019), Presidential Decree (PD) 46 for Receiving and Giving of Gifts of Public Officials and Employees, and Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (Republic Act 6173).
NBI’s criminal charges on De Lima were based on the testimonies of detained inmates from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) who previously testified before the House Committee on Justice about the proliferation of the drug trade inside the NBP.
De Lima said she is very much prepared to face the charges on her.
Aside from this, De Lima was accused of having received around P8 Million from Rolan Kevin Espinosa in Damra Restaurant near the MOA in Pasay City.
Rolan Kevin is the brother of Rolan Kerwin Espinosa.
Also named in the NBI complaint were former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu, former Bucor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, Joenel Sanchez (former security aide of De Lima), Ronnie Dayan (former driver and bodyguard of De Lima), NBI agent Jovencio Ablen Jr., Wilfredo Ely, (former member of Bucayu’s staff), Lyn Sagum (personal assistant of De Lima), a certain Julius Rejuso, and a certain “George.”
The charge sheet also included several high-profile inmates who testified to the sale and distribution of illegal drugs, which is punishable under RA 9165.
Among them were Jaybee Sebastian, Herbert Colanggo, Engelbert Durano, Vicente Sy, Wu Tuan Yuan alias Peter Co, and Jojo Baligad.
The charges were filed by NBI spokesperson Ferdinand Lavin and NBI Anti-Illegal Drugs Division chief, Atty. Joel Tuvera.
When asked by the media, Tuvera strongly argued that NBI has extremely strong evidence to pin down De Lima and the 17 others, thus, the criminal charges the NBI recommended to the DOJ to file to the competent court will surely prosper.
“We have interlocking confessions. Sanga-sanga itong confessions, iyung sinabi ng isa, vinalidate ng isa, ini-corroborate ng isa. We believe we have the case [against De Lima and the 17 others,” he stressed.