MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima said her lawyers are now assessing the effects of the death of high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian on the drug-related charges filed against her.
“My lawyers are still assessing the effect of Sebastian’s death on the cases against me, considering that he is or was the Duterte regime’s supposed ‘star’ witness,” De Lima said in a dispatch from Camp Crame on Monday.
“However, all testimonies coming from the inmates and some other so-called witnesses are all fabrications anyway. One less fabrication might be good in my case, but let us not forget all the other testimony fabrications. Whether the fabricator is dead or alive does not change the fact that their stories are all lies, and that the cases against me are all fake,” she added.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Monday said that Sebastian was among the nine high-profile inmates of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City who succumbed to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra made the confirmation following a meeting with Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director General Gerald Bantag on Monday afternoon.
Bantag earlier refused to reveal the name of inmates who died from COVID-19 citing Data Privacy Act.
Guevarra has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation into the deaths of the inmates after Bantag informed him of the protocol in the event of an inmate’s death from coronavirus disease which include the mandatory cremation of the cadaver within 12 hours to prevent the spread of the infection.
Sebastian was the key witness in the alleged Bilibid drug trade and drug trafficking cases against De Lima which are currently pending before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court.
The senator, who is one of the Duterte administration’s vocal critics, has been detained since 2017.
“The Duterte regime can have 100 live witnesses for all I care. But this still does not change the fact that the charges against me are absolutely false and fictitious. Conversely, the regime’s witnesses can all be dead, but this will not prevent Duterte and his operators from inventing other evidence to keep me in jail,” De Lima said.
“My point is, under normal conditions, these cases would have been dismissed a long time ago. But under conditions of a dictatorship where it is the dictator himself who has a very personal stake on the cases, and given the state of our justice system, I will not wonder if dead witnesses can still be made to rise from the grave and made to testify,” she added.
Meanwhile, De Lima raised alarm anew over the “dire conditions” existing in the country’s jails during the public health crisis, and even the pre-pandemic times.
“COVID-19 is not a joke, as the Duterte regime has treated it, especially in our prison system that hosts the perfect conditions for the spread of the virus,” she said.
“Regardless of who the dead are, whether free citizens or PDLs, they shall remain to be counted as the victims of the incompetence, indifference, and impunity of the Duterte Administration in dealing with the pandemic that has resulted in more suffering for our people, not to mention the devastation of the economy after months of lockdown but with absolutely nothing to show for it,” she added.
She then called on the Duterte administration to “step down, and hand over the reins of government” to Vice President Leni Robredo.
The post De Lima camp assessing effect of Jaybee Sebastian’s death on her drug cases appeared first on UNTV News.