By: Roy Bersales
EMBATTLED Senator Leila de Lima does not trust the Department of Justice (DOJ) because its chief Vitaliano Aguirre II has already concluded her “guilty” of four criminal charges, including drug-related case, slapped on her.
Thus, De Lima, a Liberal Party (LP) stalwart, did not personally attend the first meeting of the preliminary hearing on the charges filed against her.
Instead, the neophyte, through her lawyers, filed an omnibus motion before the DOJ that seeks to suspend its preliminary investigation against her claiming it is “seriously tainted and deeply compromised” because Aguirre and President Rodrigo Duterte have made her guilty of the crimes, including her alleged links from drug syndicates at the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) and other places.
De Lima also asked Aguirre and the DOJ prosecutors to inhibit themselves from the probe.
De Lima made the twin requests as she asserted that the charges slapped on her should be properly file at the Office of the Ombudsman since the latter has the “sole” legal jurisdiction on her case being an elected official.
She cited the 1989 Ombudsman Act in asserting the rightful role of the Office of the Ombudsman.
However, Section 21 of the same law stipulated that the elected officials where the Office of the Ombudsman has jurisdiction are those elected in the local government unit (LGUs) and the vice president, but not the senators and congressmen.
Thus, the Office of the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction on De Lima.
It can be remembered that the Office of the Ombudsman has asked the Senate to dismiss Sen. Emmanuel Joel Villanueva from the government service after he was found guilty of various criminal charges, including graft and corruption charges, in connection with the P10 Million Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) that he, a congressman, allocated to highly questionable projects of a non-governmental organization in 2008.
Villanueva was the representative of the Citizen Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list at the House of the Representatives when the P10 Million PDAF scam happened.
If the charges against her remained at the DOJ, De Lima said “In this environment, where the President and the DOJ Secretary have complete control and supervision over the work of their subordinates at the DOJ, it is a foregone conclusion that the conduct and the results of the investigation will not be impartial and objective.”
De Lima is the subject of complaints filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, former National Bureau of Investigation Directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala, and convicted kidnapper Jaybee Sebastian.