MANILA (UPDATED) - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is one step away to be finally confirmed by the Commission on Appointments after receiving the unanimous approval of the CA justice committee.
De Lima expressed happiness and relief after the hearing.
“Very happy, very relieved. The whole process was very humbling for me,” she told reporters.
“Sigurado lalo akong gaganahan, lalo akong magsisipag, lalo akong magiging determinado na gawin ko ang mandato ko, na gawin ko ang dapat gawin.”
Senator Jinggoy Estrada posed no objection and even greeted de Lima after the hearing.
This was after Estrada grilled de Lima about the action taken by her department on the letter of Janet Napoles alleging extortion by the National Bureau of Investigation, a former PSG chief of former President Joseph Estrada, and lawyer Levito Baligod.
De Lima said that after finding the explanation of the NBI and Baligod satisfactory, she did not investigate Napoles’ complaints further.
She called Napoles’ letter as a “desperate attempt” to derail an ongoing investigation on the serious illegal detention charges filed against Napoles and on the pork barrel scam.
De Lima also did not find it warranted to investigate retired general Rodolfo Diaz.
The justice chief was also asked about the differences between a watchlist order and a lookout bulletin for people who are subject of complaints. De Lima said that Estrada, who has been indicted for plunder over the pork barrel scam, is free to travel without any hold departure order or warrant of arrest being issued by the Sandiganbayan.
No lookout bulletin has been issued against Estrada either.
De Lima again said that the administration is not out to single out members of the opposition in the filing of cases. She said that the NBI happened to have finished the case buildup on the first three senators ahead of the rest.
On the Malampaya fund scam, de Lima said that Ruby Tuason has been “provisionally accepted” as state witness under the witness protection program but that the justice department would defer to the decision of the Ombudsman whether Tuason would be granted immunity in the end.
Tuason has just been given immunity in connection with the pork barrel cases. De Lima said that no legislators were included in the list of respondents in the Malampaya fund case.