DoJ starts hearing of drug raps vs De Lima on Dec. 21

MANILA — The Department of Justice (DoJ) on Friday has set the hearing of drug trafficking complaints filed against former DOJ Secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima, including former government officials and inmates allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City as it started preliminary investigation on the case.

The five-man panel headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter L. Ong conducted a preliminary investigation to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant the filing of case against De Lima and several other respondents.

Seven respondents namely: former Bureau of Corrections Chair Rainier G. Cruz; Ronnie Dayan, the former driver and lover of Senator De Lima; Julius Rejuso, alleged bagman of former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan; and the high profile inmates Jaybee Sebastian, Vicente Sy, Wu Tuan Yuan alias Peter Co, and Jojo Baliga failed to appear or sent a representative before the DoJ.

The rest of the respondents including Senator De Lima has a representative and lawyer to receive the complaints.

Romeo Siazon, staff of De Lima, arrived late carrying a letter addressed to the panel of prosecutors authorizing him to obtain copies of the complaints and supporting evidence in the subpoena issued last Nov. 21 by the panel.

Ong told the respective lawyers of the respondents to submit their response to the complaints on the hearing of the case set on December 21 at 2 p.m. in DoJ.

He said that on December 21, all respondents, including De Lima are required to appear personally before the DoJ to submit their counter-affidavits except for the Bilibid inmates.

Ong said Bilibid inmates including Herbert Colanggo will submit their affidavits at the Intelligence Service Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).

”Yun inmates they don’t have to be here (DoJ), they are not allowed to go outside. Panumpa na lang dun padala dito sa amin. At saka ko pupuntahan dun for reaffirmation na lang,” he explained.

He added that respondents who failed to appear today or send their representatives will be issued subpoenas with attachment for them to answer on December 21.

Earlier, DoJ consolidated the four drug complaints filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC); former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala; high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian; and the NBI.

De Lima’s co-respondents include Jaybee Sebastian; former DOJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III; former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Franklin Jesus Bucayu; former BuCor director Ricardo Reineir Cruz; De Lima’s former aide Joenel Sanchez; De Lima’s former driver Ronnie Dayan, De Lima’s nephew Jose Adrian Dera; NBI Deputy Director Rafael Ragos; former New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Superintendent Richard Schwarzcopf Jr.; NBI agent Jovencio Ablen Jr.; Bucayu’s alleged bagman Wilfredo Elli; Baraan’s former subordinate Jesusa Francisco; de Lima’s secretary Lyn Sagum; Baraan’s alleged bagman Julius Rejuso; and De Lima’s alleged bagman only known as alias “Georg”.

Others named in the complaints are convicted criminals and NBP inmates Sebastian, Herbert Colanggo, Engelbert Durano, Vicente Sy, Wu Tuan Yuan alias Peter Co, and Jojo Baligad.

The NBI filed complaints on November 10 against De Lima for violation of Sections 5, 26 (b), and 27 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (Republic Act 9165), qualified bribery (Revised Penal Code) and Section 3 (e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act (RA 3019), violation of An Act Punishing the Receiving and Giving of Gifts of Public Officials and Employees (Presidential Decree 46) and Section 7 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713).

Last Nov. 4, kidnapping convict Jaybee Sebastian through his wife filed third complaint before the DoJ against De Lima for alleged violation of anti-graft, anti-torture law, code of conduct and ethical standards, and indirect bribery.

The first case was filed on Oct. 11 by the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC), led by its president Dante Jimenez. The complaint was grounded on the lady senator’s alleged violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Two days later, a second complaint was filed by former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officials Reynaldo O. Esmeralda and Ruel M. Lasala, citing the same violation.

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. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/

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