2 ex-NBI officials file drug raps vs De Lima

MANILA — Former ranking officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Thursday filed another drug trafficking complaint before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against former DOJ Secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima.

Former NBI deputy director for intelligence services Reynaldo Esmeralda and deputy director for special investigation services Ruel Lasala specifically charged De Lima and former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge and NBI Deputy Director Rafael Ragos for violation of Section 5, in relation to Section 26 (b) of Republic Act 9165, otherwise known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The said provisions prohibit the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical.”

Under the said law, the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine ranging from PHP500,000 to PHP10 million shall be imposed to any person who will be found guilty of the offense.

The complaint was filed in connection with allegations that De Lima, during her term as DOJ secretary, conspired with Ragos to benefit from the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the NBP in Muntinlupa City.

“Sen. De Lima, acting as the mother of all drug lords and through the use of her authority, was able to appoint and designate men inside the Bilibid in order to ensure the perpetuation of illegal drug trade,” the 20-page complaint read.

“Respondents definitely saw how profitable the system established in the Bilibid at that time. Like hungry wolves, they took advantage of their power, influence and resources,” the complaint stressed.

Ragos, who earlier testified before the House of Representatives inquiry on the matter confessed that he personally delivered millions of drug money to De Lima’s residence in Parañaque City in several instances in 2012 and handed the money to her aide and reported lover Ronnie Dayan.

Atty. Eduardo Bringas, lawyer of Esmeralda and Lasala, said that Ragos was included as respondent in the charge sheet despite being granted immunity by the House justice committee.

“His immunity was with regard only to the statement he gave. But there is corroborating witness, Ablen, that’s why we included him,” he noted.

Ragos confirmed the statement of the witness NBI agent Jovencio Ablen Jr. and NBP inmate Jojo Baligad who alleged that the respondents “acted in conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade.”

Esmeralda said as early as 2012, they already have information on the delivery of drug money to De Lima in her house in Paranaque City through Ablen.

”Si Ablen ang unang nag-update sa amin dun sa impormasyon na yun thats why built up the case. Wala kaming nilapitan basta hinawakan lang namin yung mga yunng mga impormasyon na yun,” Esmeralda told reporters after filing in DoJ mian office in Manila.

Esmeralda and Lasala were dismissed on 2014 by De Lima from their positions due to “lingering integrity issues”.

The two denied that they filed the complaint as retaliation to De Lima.

”Kaming dalawa ni Esmeralda ay nagpapasalamat kay then Secretary De Lima na tinanggal niya kami nung panahon na yun kasi nakita ko kung hindi kami natanggal nung 2014 ang laki ng possibilidad na ngayon kasama kami sa demandang ito,” Lasala said.

It was the second complaint filed against De Lima in connection to the NBP drug trade. The first one was filed last Tuesday by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).

The VACC complaint named as respondents De Lima, former DOJ undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, former BuCor chief Franklin Bucayu, De Lima’s former aides Ronnie Dayan, Joenel Sanchez and Jose Adrian Dera, Bucayu’s alleged bagman Wilfredo Ely and high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian.

DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday confirmed that the agency will conduct a preliminary investigation on the drug trafficking charges filed by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) against former DOJ Secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima and seven other persons.

”We will conduct the preliminary investigation may jurisdiction diyan ay DOJ we have the obligation to conduct the preliminary investigation,” Aguirre said in press conference held at the DOJ main office in Manila.

Aguirre made the statement after De Lima said that the case should have been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, the agency mandated to investigate and prosecute erring government officials and employees, and not at the DOJ.

“The DOJ has concurrent jurisdiction with the Ombudsman to hear preliminary investigation cases filed against government officials that are cognizable by the Sandiganbayan,” he explained.

Aguirre also assured that prosecutors would be fair in resolving the criminal charges against his predecessor in the department and seven others. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/

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