VACC, Ex-NBI officials file disbarment complaint vs Sen. De Lima

MANILA – The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), together with former ranking officials of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and a whistle blower on Friday filed a disbarment case against former Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima before the Office of the Bar Confidant of the Supreme Court (SC).

In a press conference held in Manila, VACC founding chair Dante Jimenez, former NBI Deputy Directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala and jueteng whistle blower Sandra Cam said that De Lima should be disbarred for gross immorality, violation of the Lawyers Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.

“The practice of law is a privilege…It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate of due process once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics,” in 43-page complaint stated.

The complaint said De Lima committed gross immorality and violated the Lawyers’ Oath, and Rule 1.01, Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

“We find that Senator De Lima violated Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, as her behavior demeaned the dignity of and discredited the legal profession. She simply failed in her duty as a lawyer to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality,” the complaint read.

The complaint also mentioned De Lima’s alleged illicit relationship with her former driver Ronnie Dayan.

The complaint cited the testimony of PSG Joenel Sanchez who, before Congress said he saw the two videos of De Lima when her driver had managed to pry into Dayan’s phone. Sanchez also described De Lima’s closeness to Dayan.

“Measured against the definition of gross immorality, we find Senator De Lima’s actions grossly immoral. Her actions were so corrupt as to approximate a criminal act, for she has a relationship with a married man, who in all appearances, was married to another and with whom he has a family. Her actions were also unprincipled and reprehensible to the highest degree,” the complaint stated.

“All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent (De Lima) was grossly imprudent in managing her personal affairs. The fact remains that her relationship with Ronnie Dayan, a married man, is grossly immoral. Worse, she never denied such relationship,” it added.

“Senator De Lima used her power and moral ascendancy to portray the role of Whitney Houston in the movie The Body Guard. Unfortunately, the closest that she can relate to Whitney Houston is the death of her legal profession through illegal drugs,” the complaint read.

The complaint also based on the testimonies of witnesses before the House Committee on Justice’s probe on the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Based on the testimonies of witnesses including NBI officials, high profile inmates, complainants said “respondent in this case knew that what were sold and traded were all prohibited drugs. Sen. De Lima did not only provide protection for the incarcerated drug lords to ensure the proliferation of illegal drug trade, not only inside Bilibid but also from the outside.”

The following witnesses who testified in House probe against De Lima were made by various law enforcement agency personnel such as NBI Deputy Rafael Ragos; NBI Agent Jovencio Ablen; PSG Joenel Sanchez; PSG Romel Falcasantos; Supt. Jerry Valeroso and Reynante Diaz while several inmates such as Rodolfo Magleo; Herbert Colanggo; Noel Martinez; Jaime Patcho; Hans Anton Tan; Froilan Trestiza; Jojo Baligad; Engelberto Durano; Nonilo Arile; Joel Capones; Peter Co and Vicente Sy also testified.

Complainants said De Lima tolerated the illegal drug trade inside prison to support her Senate bid.

They noted that De Lima spent Php 86.1-million during the campaign.

“For all the advertisement she contracted during the election campaign, where would she get the money from? One could not turn a blind eye on her actual source of fund. She had generous benefactors from inside the Bilibid,” the complaint stated.

De Lima has three other disbarment cases pending. All the other cases were filed in 2012.

Because of the disbarment complaints, De Lima was excluded by the Judicial and Bar Council from the shortlist of nominees for chief justice in August 2012.

Aside from the disbarment complaint, De Lima also faces drug trafficking complaints filed by the VACC and former NBI officials before the Department of Justice (DOJ).

De Lima also faces election protest filed recently before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) by former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Francis Tolentino, who placed 13th in the senatorial race with just about 1.3 million votes behind De Lima.

Tolentino specifically asked the tribunal to unseat De Lima for allegedly committing poll fraud. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/