MANILA - Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Sunday insisted that Senator Leila De Lima only has herself to blame for the drug raps against her.
Aguirre said De Lima refused to file a counter affidavit to the allegations that led state prosecutors to file drug trafficking charges against her.
A 5-man panel of prosecutors waited about a month for De Lima's affidavit before starting to consolidate the 4 separate criminal complaints against the senator but she did not answer the charges, saying these lacked evidence and were merely part of political persecution, Aguirre said.
"Hindi po siya nag-submit ng kahit anong counter affidavit kaya't kung iyung katwiran niya ay hindi na-consider ng 5-man panel, palagay ko po siya na ang may kasalanan nun," he told radio DZMM.
(She did not submit any counter affidavit so if her defense was not considered by the 5-man panel, I think that is her fault.)
The DOJ on Friday filed 3 criminal complaints at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court against De Lima in connection with her alleged involvement in the New Bilibid Prison illegal drug trade when she was still justice secretary.
De Lima said she is prepared to be a “political prisoner” as the charges are politically motivated by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte due to her vocal criticism of the government’s war on illegal drugs.
Aguirre maintained that the case was not politically motivated.
De Lima is the first sitting senator and former justice secretary and human rights chair to face trial over non-bailable drug charges.
A judge will decide whether to issue a warrant for her arrest once her case is assigned to a court.