Aguirre ready to face De Lima's complaint

MANILA -- Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Saturday, July 15, he is ready to face the criminal and administrative complaint filed by detained Senator Leila de Lima against him before the Office of the Ombudsman.

”I will face her accusations against me in any forum. I will follow what our laws or rules state on jurisdiction and will not challenge it because I know I have not done anything wrong,” Aguirre said in a statement sent to reporters covering the Department of Justice (DOJ).

De Lima cited in her complaint Aguirre's supposed inaction on the cases of killings in the country in connection with the Duterte administration's war against illegal drug trafficking, despite the DOJ's mandate to investigate and prosecute criminals.

The senator said she has “reliable information” coming from the DOJ that Aguirre supposedly issued a directive to the National Prosecution Service that no prosecutor is allowed to file a case against any law enforcement official enforcing the administration's war on drugs.

De Lima, in her 27-page complaint, said Aguirre must be investigated for supposed violation of several provisions of the Revised Penal Code, such as negligence in prosecution and toleration of criminal offenses (Article 208), grave coercion (Article 286), use of falsified documents (Article 172.2), offering of false testimony (Article 184) and usurpation of legislative powers (Article 239).

She further said that Aguirre must be investigated for the alleged violation of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Aguirre said he can contest de Lima's allegation with established evidence.

”She is just trying to be relevant. Unlike her, who has consistently anchored her defense on bare denials and nothing more, we can refute her accusations with well-established proof of actions taken,” he noted.

The DOJ filed drug raps against de Lima, accusing her of receiving millions from the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

READ: De Lima arrested over drug charges

De Lima, currently detained at the Philippine National Police custodial center, argued that the allegations against her do not actually constitute sale and trading of illegal drugs and liability of government officials under Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, but rather only direct bribery.

Separate cases for three counts of drug trafficking were filed against de Lima before the Muntinlupa regional trial court (RTC), which were assigned to three different courts.

The cases for sale and trading of illegal drugs and liability of government officials under Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act were assigned to RTC Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero, Branch 205 Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz, and Branch 206 Judge Patria Manalastas-de Leon.

The first count in Branch 204 also includes de Lima's former driver and partner, Ronnie Dayan, and former National Bureau of Investigation deputy director Rafael Ragos as her co-accused.

De Lima is joined by her nephew, Jose Adrian Dera, in the second count in Branch 205.

The third count in Branch 206 includes former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu, his alleged bagman Wilfredo Elli, high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian, de Lima's former bodyguard Jonel Sanchez, Dayan and Dera also as accused. (PNA)

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