Senator cries 'political persecution'
MANILA (3rd UPDATE) - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed three criminal cases before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) against Senator Leila de Lima for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary.
De Lima was accused of violating Section 5 and Section 28 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which pertains to the sale and trade of illegal drugs, and the criminal liability of government officials and employees.
The charges stemmed from complaints received by the DOJ from the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, National Bureau of Investigation, and New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmate Jaybee Sebastian.
Sebastian testified before a House inquiry that he gave the senator millions of pesos in drug payoffs when she was still justice secretary.
The neophyte lawmaker has denied the accusations, which she said were orchestrated by President Duterte as payback for her crusade against his bloody anti-narcotics war and the so-called Davao Death Squad.
Also charged along with De Lima is former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu, former BuCor officer-in-charge and National Bureau of Information (NBI) Deputy Director Rafael Ragos, De Lima's reported nephew and aide Jose Adrian Dera, Joenel Sanchez, Wilfredo Elli, and Jaybee Sebastian.
The cases may be raffled off on Monday, after which the Muntinlupa RTC judge will assess whether arrest warrants will be issued against De Lima and others charged.
De Lima labeled the cases as "political persecution," and said she would fight the charges.
"This is travesty of truth and justice. Plain and simple political persecution," she said.
"I will fight this out for as long as I can. They can never break my spirit," she added.
--reports from Ina Reformina and Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News