MANILA -- Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday bared the panel of prosecutors is planning to amend the illegal drug trafficking charges filed against detained Senator Leila de Lima.
“I heard mag-aamend sila. I don’t know kung itutuloy nila yun, it is the call of NPS (National Prosecution Service (NPS)). Wala sa amin yun (I heard they are going to amend (the charges). I don't know if they will push through with that, it is the call of the NPS. It's not with us.),” Aguirre told reporters in chance interview at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
He said the DOJ panel of prosecutors is considering the position raised by Solicitor General Jose Calida during the oral arguments on De Lima’s petition in the Supreme Court, which sought the junking of the criminal complaint lodged against her.
Calida had told magistrates that De Lima should have been charged with violation of Section 26 of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, instead of violation of Section 5 of the said law.
“Ang discussion ni SolGen Calida. Instead of Section 5, it would be Sec. 26. (SolGen Calida's discussion was that instead of Section 5, it would be Sec. 26.) So it would an amendment from Sec. 26 in relation to Sec. 5. Legal naman, actually nasabi ni SolGen Calida na sa Supreme Court na wala naman nakitaan ng mali ng SC (It is legal, actually SolGen Calida said the Supreme Court said nothing is wrong with it),” Aguirre said.
Section 26 pertains to “any attempt or conspiracy” to import, sell, trade, administer, dispense, deliver, distribute and transport illegal drugs, and maintain a drug den, produce narcotics and cultivate sources of illicit substances.
On the other hand, Section 5 prohibits the “sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals.”
De Lima, who has been detained in Crame Crame since her arrest on Feb. 24, was indicted for violation of Section 5 in relation to Section 3(jj), Section 26(b) and Section 28.
Section 3(jj) refers to trading of illegal drugs while Section 28 covers the criminal liability of public officials involved in the proliferation of narcotics.
Last October 10, the SC dismissed the petition filed by De Lima seeking to nullify the arrest warrant issued by a Muntinlupa court in connection with the illegal drug trafficking charges filed against her and to order her immediate release from detention.
Voting 9-6, the high court junked de Lima’s petition for lack of merit.
Those who voted to junk De Lima's petition were Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano Del Castillo, Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes and Alexander Gesmundo.
Velasco wrote the decision that was concurred by majority of the justices.
On the other hand, those who voted in favor of granting De Lima's petition were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Francis Jardeleza, Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa. (PNA)