MANILA – Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla on Wednesday said it will be up to the courts to determine whether the recent decision of the Office of the Ombudsman that junked bribery charges against former senator Leila de Lima will have an effect on the separate drug charges against her.
"It’s up to the courts," Remulla told reporters as he confirmed that a number of groups and persons have approached the department, urging it to withdraw the drug charges against de Lima.
"Dami na (There are a lot), diplomats mostly. I just had to explain the situation to them," Remulla added.
Meanwhile, DOJ spokesperson Mico Clavano said the agency's position on the issue "remains the same".
"We have already presented our evidence. It is former senator de Lima’s turn to present hers," he said.
In a July 22 decision, the Ombudsman dropped the bribery case filed against de Lima and her former aide, Ronnie Dayan, noting that there were inconsistencies in the testimonies provided by the complainant, the Special Investigation Team of the Office of the Ombudsman.
De Lima was alleged to have received bribe money collected by Dayan from convicted drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa.
The Ombudsman noted Espinosa's testimony that it was Dayan who got the money from him, contrary to the testimony of another government witness, prison inmate Marcelo Adorco, who said it was de Lima who directly received the money.
Prosecutors alleged that the bribe was a protection racket for the continuation of the drug trade as de Lima, then secretary of justice under the administration of the late former president Benigno Aquino III, is preparing to run for the Senate. (PNA)