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De Lima’s dilemma

  • Written by Alfred Dalizon
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 316

Crame files

I am asking this million-dollar question again as the House of Representatives yesterday opened its explosive investigation into huge anomalies inside the Bilibid prisons as well as charges that Senator Leila de Lima got millions of pesos from convicted drug lords.

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It really looks like déjà vu for the former Department of Justice secretary, a known protégé of ex-President Benigno Aquino who merely inched former MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino in the race for the 12th Senate seat  last May. I’m saying this noting that in 2014, De Lima helped send former senators Juan Ponce-Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr. to jail.

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In June 2014, the Ombudsman indicted Senators Enrile, Estrada and Revilla Jr., businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles and five others in Sandiganbayan for plunder over the P10 billion pork barrel scam which rocked the former Aquino administration.  The charges were filed thanks largely to investigations made by De Lima’s DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation which saw the DoJ-NBI filing plunder charges against  the nine and 29 other people in 2013.

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The three senators and Napoles, tagged as the alleged brains behind the pork barrel scam were accused of stockpiling a combined total of P581 million in kickbacks through the diversion of pork barrel funds to bogus foundations from 2004 to 2012. But look who’s laughing now as the neophyte senator faces the prospect of finding herself in a cold prison cell too in case the corruption charges against her will stick.

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The charges against her are so serious. Section 27 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 says that ‘any elective local or national official found to have benefited from the proceeds of the trafficking of dangerous drugs as prescribed in this Act, or have received any financial or material contributions or donations from natural or juridical persons found guilty of trafficking dangerous drugs as prescribed in this Act, shall be removed from office and perpetually disqualified from holding any elective or appointive positions in the government, its divisions, subdivisions, and intermediaries, including government-owned or –controlled corporations.’

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The offense carries the maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million. Sen. De Lima has described the House probe as a ‘sham inquiry’ aimed at destroying her reputation allegedly on orders of President Duterte. However, it would be the public that will be the final judge on this issue.
 
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2 POSITIVE SIDES OF DIGONG PRESIDENCY
   
I have been talking with people from all walks of life and although some of them support investigation into so-called ‘deaths under inquiries,’ majority of them have been telling me that the entry of the Duterte administration has literally given them a new lease on life. CHANGE is coming indeed, they say noting their new experience while in the airports and on the streets.

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I personally experienced it last week when I briefly left the country. At the NAIA Terminal 1, the air-conditioning system is fully functioning, the toilets are clean, fresh and well-maintained, airport employees are all smiling and most importantly, travelers are confident they won’t fall victim to so-called ‘Laglag-Bala’ syndicates.

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Compare it to the chaotic scene at the different NAIA terminals last year when ‘Laglag-Bala’ was rampant forcing many foreign and domestic travelers to seal their luggage and bags with plastic. “Only  in the Philippines,” as they say.

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Almost all of my friends and other people are also saying that are now more confident in walking down the streets even at night since they know that police are always on the stakeout for criminals, with the PNP giving criminals no chance to attack their preys.

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Nowadays, I have been seeing many commuters in Metro Manila displaying their mobile phones and other gadgets while inside taxis, buses and jeepneys stuck up in daily traffic and unmindful of constant reminders from the police not to display their valuables while in public. To me, this is a proof that many citizens are now confident that police have been effectively crushing down criminality.

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It seems to me that cellphone thieves, pickpockets, bag slashers, muggers, bus and jeepney robbers and other street criminals are now six feet under the ground, killed in encounters with the police or have fled to the provinces to live a new life, afraid that cops will ultimately track them down. The PNP’s aggressive campaign against drug trafficking and abuse is also gaining so much ground that many have been telling me that their neighbors who are known to be into drugs are now gone, either permanently or in hiding, courtesy of efforts made by the 18 police regional offices.

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I will credit it to the solid leadership of PNP chief, General Ronald ‘Bato’ de la Rosa and commanders. In particular, credit for a job well done in Metro Manila should be given to the National Capital Region Police Office headed by Chief Superintendent, soon-to-be Director Oca Albayalde and his tireless district directors led by soon-to-be Chief Superintendents Gilor Eleazar of the Quezon City Police District, Bong Fajardo of the Northern Police District, Jigs Coronel of the Manila Police District, Tom Apolinario of the Southern Police District and newly-promoted Chief Supt. Mol Sapitula of the Eastern Police District, the PNP Highway Patrol Group headed by now Chief Supt. Tony Gardiola and the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group headed by Chief Supt. Roel Obusan. Kudos to these officers and gentlemen.