Sen. De Lima asks DOJ Sec. Aguirre to inhibit himself from cases vs her

MANILA — Senator Leila de Lima on Friday asked Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to inhibit himself and his team of prosecutors from hearing the four cases filed against her in connection with her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade in the country.

In filing her omnibus motion, De Lima asked the DOJ to refer the four cases to the Office of the Ombudsman, which she maintained impartiality to investigate the charges against her.

De Lima, who is former Justice Secretary, said that this would also allow “an objective and independent investigation on said cases.”

She explained that the charges leveled against her as a public official fall within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Ombudsman according to the 1989 Ombudsman Act.

“The importance of an independent and impartial investigation, forming part as it is of the fundamental right to due process, cannot be overemphasized,” she said.

De Lima is facing several cases including one filed by the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC) grounded on the senator’s alleged violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Another filed by former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officials Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala, citing the same violation and most recently another by high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian in response to her claim that Sebastian was a government asset.

It was President Rodrigo R. Duterte who first exposed de Lima as having a hand in the proliferation of illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when she was then Justice Secretary.

The senator, however, has repeatedly denied the allegations claiming that it was part of a demolition job against her. Azer Parrocha/