De Lima says COVID-19 death of 'star witness' Sebastian does little to help her case

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2020 06:41 PM

File: Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday said the death of convicted drug lord Jaybee Sebastian, who accused her of masterminding the drug trade inside the national penitentiary, does little to help her case.

Sebastian, who allegedly died after being infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is only one of the many witnesses who gave "absolutely false and fictitious" testimonies, De Lima said in a statement.

"One less fabrication might be good in my case, but let us not forget all the other testimony fabrications," De Lima said.

"Whether the fabricator is dead or alive does not change the fact that their stories are all lies, and that the cases against me are all fake," she said.

De Lima has been detained in the national police headquarters Camp Crame since February 2017 over several drug charges, including allegedly sourcing her 2016 campaign funds from drug lords during her stint as Justice Secretary.

The opposition senator has repeatedly denied the allegations, and said that she was jailed for being a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and his bloody war on drugs.

"The Duterte regime can have 100 live witnesses for all I care, but this still does not change the fact that the charges against me are absolutely false and fictitious," De Lima said.

"Conversely, the regime’s witnesses can all be dead, but this will not prevent Duterte and his operators from inventing other evidence to keep me in jail," she said.

De Lima said her case "would have been dismissed a long time ago" if the President was not holding several camps "by their throats."

"But under conditions of a dictatorship where it is the dictator himself who has a very personal stake on the cases, and given the state of our justice system, I will not wonder if dead witnesses can still be made to rise from the grave and made to testify," she said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier filed a resolution to investigate the death of Sebastian and other high-profile inmates, noting that there are "too many unanswered questions" surrounding their passing.