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“Drug cases do not involve one’s political beliefs. It involves one’s choice to be involved in illegal drugs.

TEB

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Going back to the events in 2017 that led to the arrest of Sen. Leila de Lima only exposes the barefaced lies which are her claim of being a prisoner of conscience and being persecuted after the Senate probe on the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA) Law zeroed in on her and former Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.

De Lima and Roxas crafted the defective implementing rules and regulations that made possible the release of nearly 2,000 life termers who the current administration had now ordered returned to prison.

Leila’s argument is that the new allegations are part of the continuing persecution against her, citing the supposedly trumped up charges slapped against her.

Her spin has been swallowed by gullible foreign media who are hungry for any detrimental news against President Rody Duterte and his signature war on drugs campaign.

The drug trafficking complaints against the senator are well founded and are currently being heard in court.

In February 2017, the Department of Justice (DoJ) panel of prosecutors issued a resolution charging De Lima of three counts of drug charges before the Muntinlupa City regional trial court (RTC) in connection with her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

De Lima was charged for violation of Section 5 (sale and trading of illegal drugs) in relation to Section 3 (jj); Section 26 (b), and Section 28 (criminal liability of government officials and employees) of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The DoJ panel of prosecutors composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, Assistant State Prosecutor Editha Fernandez and Senior Assistant City Prosecutors Alexander Ramos, Leilia Llanes and Evangeline Viudez-Canobas issued a 52-page resolution dated 14 February approved by Prosecutor General Victor Sepulveda on the consolidated criminal complaints filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC); the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); former NBI deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala and high-profile Bilibid inmate and self-confessed drug trader Jaybee Sebastian.

The three separate cases against De Lima, which accused her of receiving millions from illegal drug trade in NBP, went to three RTC branches.

The first count in branch 204 also included De Lima’s former driver and lover Ronnie Dayan and NBI deputy director Rafael Ragos as her co-accused.

On the other hand, De Lima is joined by her nephew Jose Adrian Dera in the second count in branch 205.

Lastly, the third count in branch 206 included former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu, his alleged bagman Wilfredo Elli, Sebastian, De Lima’s former bodyguard Jonel Sanchez, Dayan and Dera as co-accused.

RTC branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero issued an arrest warrant on 23 February 2017, which ordered De Lima’s detention at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center based on the commitment order it had issued. Dayan, meanwhile, was detained at the Muntinlupa City Jail.

The cases filed against De Lima, thus, do not show any political motivation as what she and her supporters claim since these were criminal in nature.

Former DoJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre in clarifying the cases against the senator stressed De Lima should not refer to herself as a political prisoner as the raps against her have nothing to do with her political stand.

“Drug cases do not involve one’s political beliefs. It involves one’s choice to be involved in illegal drugs,” he said, adding that he inhibited himself from the raps filed against the senator.

With the inhibition, the Muntinlupa RTC has original and exclusive jurisdiction over the three cases filed, as he also stated that the Ombudsman, as demanded then by De Lima, did not have authority to handle the charges filed against her.

“On the matter of jurisdiction, it is the RTC that has original and exclusive jurisdiction over the three cases, regardless of the high position of the respondent. Trading in illegal drugs has no connection with the performance of her duties as Secretary of Justice,” Aguirre explained.

The former proponent of selective justice should, however, be familiar with the idea of persecution, which during her stint under former President Noynoy Aquino was a way of life.

It was during their term when they ran after several high-ranking officials, such as former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, the late Chief Justice Renato Corona and incumbent opposition senators who were all turned into political trophies in the guise of “big fishes” in Aquino’s anti-corruption campaign.

With her brand of selective justice ended, she imagines that it is now being applied to her.

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