De Lima wants administrative, criminal cases fast-tracked

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2012 04:56 PM | Updated as of Jul 10 2012 04:06 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary and Chief Justice candidate Leila De Lima will request the Office of the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court (SC) to expedite the resolution of her pending criminal and administrative cases in time for the July 30 deadline imposed by the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC).

De Lima needs to secure separate clearances from the Ombudsman and the high court so that she will not be disqualified in the Chief Justice search.

De Lima is a candidate for the top judicial post, along with 21 other nominees. The JBC said she has until July 30 to have her cases dismissed for her to be considered in the shortlist.

De Lima described the cases against her as "pure harassment" and "very minor."

"Iyung feasibilty, iyung coming up of resolutions on or before July 30, I don't know if that's possible because that's not within my control. The most that I can do is to request the Office of the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court to expedite, papakiusapan ko na i-resolve as much as possible, before July 30. Ayoko na munang sabihin ngayon ano pakiusap ko sa JBC. Right now, I have no access to the JBC," she said.

De Lima was sued criminally by lawyer Reynaldo Bagatsing in May 2011 before the Office of the Ombudsman for alleged violations of Republic Act (RA) No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft Law and RA No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees for the deportation of 14 Taiwanese nationals to mainland China.

The second case, also filed in May 2011, was for alleged violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for public officials in connection with the dismissal of immigration officer Ma. Virginia Libunao. The complainant accused de Lima of gross neglect of duty and dereliction of duty for approving, "without due process," the recommendation of meting out the penalty of dismissal from service on Libunao and another immigration employee, Joselito Cruz, on charges of grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The third case filed in December 2010 was that of plunder filed by taxpayer Danilo Lihaylihay for failing to give him his tax fraud informant's reward amounting to P1.130 B in connection with the tax evasion cases of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (P3.6 B) and the Bank of America (P217 M).

De Lima is also facing disbarment cases before the Supreme Court for defying its temporary restraining order (TRO) last November on the travel ban imposed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and for "offensive" statements against then Chief Justice Renato Corona.