DOJ: Let court decide on De Lima’s criminal cases

Published August 10, 2022, 10:00 AM

by Jeffrey Damicog


The Department of Justice (DOJ) reiterated its stand to let the Muntinlupa City regional trial court (RTC) decide on the illegal drugs charges filed against former Senator and ex-Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima.

“It’s up to the courts,” DOJ Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla said on Wednesday morning, Aug. 10, in response to the dismissal by the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB) of the direct and indirect bribery complaints filed against De Lima and her former aide Ronnie Dayan.

Dismissed by the OMB were the complaints against De Lima and Dayan on alleged attempt to extort P8 million from self-confessed drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa in exchange for his protection.

In dismissing the complaint, the OMB cited the “glaring inconsistencies” in the testimonies of Kerwin and government witness Marcelo L. Adorco. The testimonies, it said, prevented the conclusion that De Lima and Dayan are probably guilty of the offenses charged against them.

“After a painstaking review of the records, it appears that there is no probable cause to indict the respondents (De Lima and Dayan) of the charges against them,” the OMB said in its resolution.

“The inconsistencies in the testimonies of the complaint’s witnesses cannot be brushed as trivial or inconsequential. The incongruities pertain to material details that cast doubt on the veracity of the accusation that De Lima, through Dayan, had collected bribe money from Kerwin,” the resolution pointed out.

“The testimonies the complainant had presented failed to provide a clear, accurate and consistent narration of facts crucial in determining whether the elements of Direct Bribery and Indirect Bribery exist,” it added.

On the dismissal of De Lima’s criminal cases, Remulla admitted a number of individuals and groups have already approached him seeking the DOJ’s withdrawal of the drug charges.

“Dami na (There are many already), diplomats mostly,” the justice secretary said.

“I just had to explain the situation to them,” he added.

DOJ Spokesperson Jose Dominic Clavano reminded that the trial of the drug charges is ongoing. ”We have already presented our evidence,” he said. “It is former Senator De Lima’s turn to present hers,” he added.

De Lima has been detained at the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City since 2017.

She is facing drug charges under Criminal Case Nos. 17-165 and 17-167 on her alleged involvement in the proliferation of the illegal drugs trading at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City when she was secretary of justice. (With report from Czarina Nicole Ong Ki)