Leaders and members of the Minority bloc in the House of Representatives are seeking the prosecution of Former Justice Secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima.
This comes following the investigation of the House Committee on Justice into the proliferation of illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
In a press briefing, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez released a Minority Report that negated the earlier findings of the House Committee on Justice Committee chaired by Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo Umali.
Suarez said, his group believes, Umali’s committee should have recommended plunder, drug trafficking and bribery charges against De Lima after some high-profile NBP prisoners testified and linked her to drug trade.
The Minority Report stated that
“a congressional recommendation to prosecute a public official for criminal acts and/or omission is consistent with the principles of separation of power and check and balance in government.”
It further said, “exercised properly as a symbolic expression of the sense of the people’s exasperation over official misconduct, it can be a tool of good governance, consistent with the constitutional principle that a public office is a public trust.”
“Unfortunately, the Committee on Justice, in Committee Report Number 14, missed the opportunity to discharge the Congressional sense of public accountability in the case of a public official embroiled in the drug trafficking scandal at the National Penitentiary – Sen. Leila De Lima – when it failed to recommend prosecution for grave misdeeds in the discharge of her functions as Secretary of Justice,” the report stressed.
Earlier this month, Umali’s Committee decided not to recommend the filing of criminal charges against De Lima.
Umali had said, “that is not our job. Prosecution is an executive function, not a congressional function.”
He had explained, cases have been filed against De Lima at the Department of Justice, including the suit filed by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) against the senator for alleged violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had asked the House Committee on Justice to refrain from recommending the filing of charges against any personality.
Alvarez had wanted the panel to just focus on drafting a legislation to stop the illegal drug trade inside the National Penitentiary.