MUST READ! The Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to issue subpoenas next week to Senator Leila De Lima and other personalities facing several complaints before the agency due to the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). The subpoenas will direct De Lima and the other respondents to attend the preliminary investigation on the four complaints being handled by a five-man panel of prosecutors, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Saturday. "We will issue the subpoenas next week," he said in a text message to GMA News Online.
Aguirre also said he issued a department order on Friday to consolidate the complaints filed by high profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) with the charges put forward by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and former NBI deputy directors Ruel Lasala and Reynaldo Esmeralda. Sebastian though is a co-respondent in the separate complaints filed by the VACC and the NBI.
The other personalities named in the various complaints are former Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu, former BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, De Lima's former security aides Ronnie Dayan and Joenel Sanchez, and several inmates like Herbert Colanggo, Peter Co and Jojo Baligad. De Lima has repeatedly denied allegations that she tolerated drug syndicates inside the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City in exchange for funds for her 2016 election campaign. She viewed the complaints, which include drug trafficking, graft, torture, violation of ethical standards for government employees and qualified bribery, as part of the government's plan to "destroy" her for criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody war on drugs. De Lima, a former justice chief, and her co-respondents may ignore the preliminary investigation but that would mean waiving their right to file defense to the allegations.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong heads the five-man investigating panel. He is joined in the panel by Senior Assistant City Prosecutors Alexander Ramos, Leila Llanes and Evangeline Viudez-Canobas and Assistant State Prosecutor Editha Fernandez. Aguirre had said the results of their preliminary investigation will be forwarded the Office of the Ombudsman, which is mandated to prosecute erring government officials and employees before the Sandiganbayan.