MANILA - The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) on Sunday took to the streets to protest the overseas travels of Senator Leila de Lima despite the four charges filed against her for her alleged involvement in the narcotics trade.
Several VACC members trooped to the country's main airport holding posters stating, "Flight is guilt" and "De Lima, tatakasan mo ba ang mga kaso laban sayo?"
Last Friday, De Lima said she will fly to the US to receive an award, and to Germany for a speaking engagement from December 11 to 22.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre said De Lima received permission to leave the country because the cases against her are still pending before the Department of Justice.
"Acting on the letter of Senator De Lima relative to her plan to travel abroad, the DOJ has issued an Allow Departure Order or ADO to allow her to travel abroad because no case has yet been filed against her before the courts," Aguirre explained.
The VACC, however, was not convinced that De Lima will return to the country after her official travel, fearing that she will seek asylum abroad.
"I appeal to her, huwag ka nang umalis if you really want to prove to us na wala kang kasalanan. Sa December 21, ini-subpoena ka ng complainants, please appear," VACC founding chairman Dante Jimenez said Saturday.
"Ito narinig namin na aalis ka, ano aming iisipin? Siguro either mag-seek ng asylum o hindi ka na bumalik."
(I appeal to her, do not leave if you really want to prove that you're innocent. On December 21, you were subpeonaed. Please appear. What would we think? Maybe you will just seek asylum or you will not return.)
The VACC lodged a disbarment case, as well as one of the four criminal complaints against De Lima for allegedly accepting drug pay-offs from high-profile inmates.
-- With reports from Jasmin Romero and Ernie Manio, ABS-CBN News