De Lima: DOJ should prosecute real criminals, not members of the opposition

Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Sunday, Jan. 2, said the Department of Justice (DOJ) should be flexing the long arm of the law on real criminals and not on members of the political opposition like her.

De Lima made the remark after the recent dismissal of a drug trafficking case against Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Co, and two others who are high-profile criminals.

The senator, who is seeking re-election in the upcoming May 2022 elections, maintained that selective prosecutions could end up with innocent people suffering.

“I can understand the frustration of the current SOJ (Secretary of Justice) when he remarked that ‘sooner or later the long arm of the law will catch up with these people and they will answer for their crimes’,” De Lima said in her latest statement, referring to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.

“I fully concur. But Aguirre's DOJ should have displayed the same vigor exhibited in running after me in pursuing these cases vs. Espinosa, et. al. With their misplaced zeal and wrongful prosecution of an innocent target, rule of law and suffer. An innocent suffers while the real guilty malefactors benefit therefrom,” she added.

“It will serve the DOJ well to remember to flex the long arm of the law more often against the real criminals, rather than the strong hand of the state against the political opposition,” De Lima further said.

In a 13-page order dated Dec. 17, the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 64, through Judge Gina M. Bibat-Palamos, reportedly granted the demurrers to evidence filed by the accused. The court also granted the demurrers to evidence of two co-accused in the case, Lovely Impal and witness Marcelo Adorco.

The court cited the prosecution’s failure “to adduce evidence to overturn the presumption of innocence enjoyed by the herein accused.”

Saddened by the development, Guevarra ordered Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento to contest the decision of the Makati RTC.

De Lima said that while she does not know the merits or the lack thereof of the drug cases against Espinosa and his co-accused in said case, she is sure that the DOJ, under Aguirre, had to use characters such as Kerwin Espinosa to falsely implicate her in the drug trade.

“That was all they cared for and what mattered to them. Kailangan nilang gumamit ng mga yan para idamay ako (They needed to use somebody to implicate me),” De Lima said.

“It didn't matter to them that the charges against them would stick as long as there's something they could use in their demolition job against me,” she lamented.