SENATOR Leila De Lima and several others facing charges over the alleged proliferation of illegal drugs inside the state prison are to be subpoenaed next week, according to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre.
Aguirre said the subpoenas will direct De Lima and the other respondents to attend the preliminary investigation into the four complaints being handled by a five-man panel of prosecutors.
“We will issue the subpoenas next week,” the DoJ chief said .
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 submitted by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and former NBI deputy directors Ruel Lasala and Reynaldo Esmeralda.
Sebastian himself 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 including 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.
In case De Lima, who is a former justice chief, and her co-respondents ignore the preliminary investigation it would it would mean they are waiving their right to defend themselves against the allegations, Aguirre said.
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 to the Office of the Ombudsman, which is mandated to prosecute erring government officials and employees before the Sandiganbayan.