By: Marites Toledo
THE Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday filed criminal charges against Sen. Leila de Lima before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court for convincing her former lover to ignore the Congressional hearing on the proliferation of drug trade and trafficking inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Assistant State Prosecutor Vilma Lopez-Sarmiento said there is sufficient basis to file the criminal charges against De Lima.
The DOJ’s case was based on the complaints of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Farinas, and House Justice Committee head Reynaldo Umali saying what De Lima did was clearly an obstruction of justice.
It can be remembered that Ronnie Dayan, De Lima’s lover for 7 years, told the Congressional hearing that he refused to attend the House investigation on the proliferation of drug trade and trafficking during the time of De Lima as secretary of DOJ because De Lima, through sending text messages to Dayan’s daughter, gave Dayan a piece of advice not to attend the hearing because they would be humiliated.
De Lima also told Dayan, on the same text messages, that the hearing was launched for the purpose of destroying her upon the order of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte.
Thus, Dayan went into hiding in La Union.
In the same House Committee on Justice hearing, Dayan admitted that he got P8 Million from Rolan “Kerwin” Epinosa as funds for senatorial bid of De Lima.
Espinosa is said to be the top drug lord in Eastern Visayas Region.
Sarmiento stressed that De Lima deliberately violated the
Article 150 (disobedience to summons of National Assembly) of the Revised Penal Code.
Under the Rules of Court, such violation could be directly filed to the court even the respondent is a senator.
The Office of the Ombudsman is not the right venue for the criminal charges slapped on De Lima because the Office of the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction on lawmakers.
The DOJ Resolution on the case said that “Respondent’s (De Lima’s) advice to Mr. Dayan through his daughter to hide and not to appear in the house inquiry constitutes an act amounting to restraining another to attend as a witness in the national assembly (now Congress of the Philippines) and inducing disobedience to a summon.”
If found guilty, De Lima may be slapped with fine and/or prison term of one to six months, according to the Revised Penal Code.
DOJ did not recommend bail for De Lima’s temporary liberty.
De Lima was also not asked to submit her defense to the complaint.
“We did not conduct any preliminary investigation because under the Rules on Summary Procedure, if the imposable penalty is less than 6 months, we can file it directly [in court] and, in fact, there are cases in which the imposable penalty is 4 years, 2 months, and one day that the investigating prosecutor need not conduct any preliminary investigation,” OIC Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr. said.
De Lima is also facing other criminal charges before the DOJ for her supposed links with the drug lords inside the NBP.
De Lima has not returned from abroad until today.