The Department of Justice (DOJ) assured Thursday, Aug. 11, that its 2017 resolution to file drug charges against former Senator and former Attorney General Leila M. De Lima does not conflict with the recent decision of the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) which dismissed complaints of direct and indirect corruption against him.
“The Department would like to reiterate and emphasize that we are consistent with the Ombudsman’s recent resolution,” the DOJ said in a statement.
The statement was released after the OMB dismissed complaints against De Lima and his former aide, Ronnie Dayan, over allegations that they had received around 8 million pesos in bribes from Baron de la confessed drug Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa.
In 2017, the DOJ filed drug charges in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in the city of Muntinlupa after finding probable cause to charge De Lima for his alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drug trafficking in the city. New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in the town of Muntinlupa.
“In the DOJ’s resolution, the panel did not consider Kerwin Espinosa’s testimony because there was no corroborating evidence to support his allegation that he handed over 8 million pesos to the former senator for a future protection,” the DOJ said.
“Therefore, it was clear to the DOJ panel of prosecutors that Espinosa’s confession to the protection payment allegation was unconvincing,” he said.
He pointed out that “these cases (dismissed by the OMB) concern the corruption charges against the former senator from Lima. The courts of Muntinlupa are seized with charges of drug trafficking which have completely different elements to prove than those of corruption,” he added.
Earlier, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla reiterated the DOJ’s stance to let the court decide the illegal drug charges filed against De Lima.
“It’s up to the courts,” Remulla said.
Regarding the dismissal of De Lima’s criminal cases, Remulla admitted that a number of individuals and groups have already approached him to request that the DOJ drop the drug charges.
“Dami na (there are a lot of them already), mostly diplomats,” the justice secretary said. “I just had to explain the situation to them,” he added.
DOJ spokesman Jose Dominic Clavano said the trial on the drug charges is ongoing. “We have already presented our evidence,” he said. “It’s former Senator De Lima’s turn to present hers,” he added.
De Lima has been held at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Headquarters Detention Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City since 2017.
She faces drug charges in Criminal Cases Nos. 17-165 and 17-167 before the Muntinlupa City RTC.
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