OSG to probe photo showing Leila, high-profile NBP inmate

This time around, it may well be former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima who will be experiencing the role of an accused or respondent in a case with the same ways and means she used in trying and convicting by publicity political foes of her political patron, former president Benigno Aquino.

All these she had utilized when she was in power and position under the Aquino administration, ruining their reputations and portraying them as guilty even before an investigation is conducted.

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Thursday issued a stern warning against government officials coddling drug lords and criminals as he vowed to probe the matter behind the photo of former Justice chief now Sen. de Lima seated with Jaybee Sebastian at the maximum security compound of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

Sebastian, a convicted kidnapper and leader of the Commando Gang, is one of the most influential drug lords in the NBP.

"Now what is a Justice Secretary doing in the kubol (private hut) of this prison mayor? Could you give me an answer to that? You media people are very intelligent. Please help us because we will investigate the persons here (in photo) if you can identify them. Is this appropriate for a Justice Secretary? To be rubbing elbows with a convicted felon? Is this right? Of course not," Calida said after the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signing with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) held at Solicitor General's Office in Makati City.

Calida said that they will utilize social media for the investigation by putting up a Facebook page, Viber, where anyone can send information regarding ties between criminals and government officials.

"So this is our message. Public officials who are coddling drug lords and criminals, will be investigated by us. This is part of our social justice advocacy. Our advocacy is to put these politicians and government officials who are coddling the drug lords and traffickers in jail," he explained.

"That's for equality, democracy, right? So this serves as a warning to these government officials that they cannot mess with the OSG, they cannot mess with the PNP and they cannot mess with me," he added.

De Lima, a former Justice secretary and Commission on Human Rights chief, has been pushing for a Senate inquiry into the spate of drug-related extrajudicial killings.

De Lima wants to invite police officials for a Senate investigation.

But Calida said that there is no need for an investigation in aid of legislation.

Calida encouraged the police force not to be scared of any probe, noting that his office is ready to defend the PNP pursuant to the existing laws of the land.

"I am here to encourage the PNP not to be afraid of any congressional or Senate investigations. We will defend them. If there is a fiscalizer, thn I am the neutralizer and the defender of the PNP, so don't be scared policemen and other other operatives," he stressed.

Leila raises a howl

Senator de Lima yesterday raised a howl over the alleged latest demolition job against her, this time, linking her to convicted carnapper and maximum security inmate.

"I categorically deny any insinuation of me extending any protection or accommodation to any criminal. My personal and professional records would belie all accusations hurled against me which are obviously intended to malign my good name and reputation and to undermine the performance of my lawful duties as a senator," she said, reacting on the surfacing of a photo showing her in the company of maximum security inmate Jaybee Sebastian.

Although De Lima did not directly point to the Solicitor General as the person behind the supposed smear campaign against her, she addressed him saying that the latter should have known better about the circumstances behind the said incident and not to take it out of context.

De Lima recalled that during the time she was the DoJ secretary where Calida once served as undersecretary and acting secretary during the Arroyo administration, she attended several management committee (ManCom) meetings, including one hosted by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) when it was then still under the helm of Director Gaudencio Pangilinan.

"That one meeting, which was covered by the media at the premises of the National Bilibid Prison (NBP), was also attended by other top officials of the DoJ, including the heads of attached agencies and BuCor officials. At the sidelines of the event, the ManCom members mingled with some inmates during certain activities on the same day as part of the reformatory program of BuCor. It is most likely where the photograph was taken and is now being shown by Calida out of context," she said.

The senator reminded Calida that public servants like them attend to such events or activities, with all kinds of people in pursuance of official duties, similar to the much publicised encounter of Philippine National Police (PNP) Dir. Gen. Ronald de la Rosa with several high-profile convicts like Herbert Colangco, Peter Co and Sebastian.

Colangco was the first to be linked to De Lima as he was alleged to have attended a birthday party of the senator when she was still DoJ chief, only to be clarified by the now lawmaker that the person being attributed to as the convict is actually actor and Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas.

There had long been reports in the past that de Lima and Sebastian are supposedly friends and this was allegedly the reason the latter was spared from a raid carried out by the National Bureau of Investigation on the maximum security compound in NBP in Muntinlupa City.

Source: Tribune

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