De Lima called ‘mother of all drug lords’

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - NEWS - By Mar­lon Ramos and Robert De­jon @Team_In­quirer

Sen. Leila de Lima has been ac­cused of re­ceiv­ing P8 mil­lion in pay­offs from a drug syn­di­cate in the Visayas and called “the mother of all drug lords” in two new charges filed against her.

In a crim­i­nal com­plaint they filed Thurs­day at the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, for­mer Na­tional Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion deputy direc­tors Ruel Lasala and Rey­naldo Es­mer­alda charged De Lima and for­mer NBI of­fi­cer in charge Rafael Ra­gos with drug traf­fick­ing in New Bili­bid Prison (NBP).

“De Lima, act­ing as the mother of all drug lords and through the use of her au­thor­ity, was able to ap­point and des­ig­nate men in­side the (NBP) in order to en­sure the per­pet­u­a­tion of il­le­gal drug trade,” the for­mer NBI of­fi­cials said in their 20-page com­plaint-af­fi­davit.

Ra­gos tes­ti­fied at the House com­mit­tee on jus­tice hear­ing that he per­son­ally de­liv­ered mil­lions of pe­sos in pro­tec­tion money from the drug lords serv­ing time at NBP to De Lima’s house in Parañaque City.

A sep­a­rate com­plaint filed Wednes­day by the po­lice chief of Al­buera, Leyte prov­ince, ac­cused De Lima of re­ceiv­ing at least P8 mil­lion in pay­offs be­fore the May elec­tions from the big­gest drug syn­di­cate in Eastern Visayas.

The charges against De Lima fol­lowed a sim­i­lar com­plaint filed Tues­day against her by the Vol­un­teers Against Crime and Cor­rup­tion.

De Lima has de­nied any links to the drug trade, say­ing she was be­ing pil­lo­ried for rais­ing the is­sue of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings against Pres­i­dent Duterte.

De Lima, then jus­tice sec­re­tary, dis­missed Lasala and Es­mer­alda in March 2014 for their sup­posed close ties with sus­pected P10-bil­lion pork bar­rel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.

Es­mer­alda said their com­plaint had noth­ing to do with their dis­missal from the NBI.

‘Had info since 2012’

“As early as 2012, we al­ready had the in­for­ma­tion (re­gard­ing De Lima’s in­volve­ment in the drug trade),” Es­mer­alda said. “That’s pre­cisely why we were re­moved from the NBI. Weknew of the de­liv­er­ies of money to her house in Parañaque. But it was con­firmed only this Septem­ber (dur­ing the House hear­ing).”

He said it was “use­less” then to squeal on their for­mer boss “be­cause she was very pow­er­ful at the time.”

Lasala said he was thank­ful to De Lima for re­mov­ing them from their posts “be­cause if she did not re­lieve us, we could have been in­cluded in this case.”

In their com­plaint pre­pared by lawyer Ed­uardo Bringas, the for­mer NBI of­fi­cials said the tes­ti­monies of NBI agent Joven­cio Ablen Jr. and con­vict Jojo Bali­gad showed that De Lima and Ra­gos had con­spired to en­gage in trad­ing and traf­fick­ing il­le­gal drugs in­side NBP in vi­o­la­tion of the Com­pre­hen­sive Dan­ger­ous Drugs Act.

“Like hun­gry wolves, they took ad­van­tage of their power, in­flu­ence and re­sources,” they said in their com­plaint.

In his com­plaint, the Al­buera po­lice chief said De Lima re­ceived pay­offs from Ker­win Espinosa, al­legedly the head of the big­gest drug syn­di­cate in Eastern Visayas and son of Al­buera Mayor Ron­aldo Espinosa. The mayor has been ar­rested on charges of pos­ses­sion of il­le­gal drugs and un­li­censed firearms while his son is at large.

Chief Insp. Jovie Espenido filed his com­plaint at the of­fice of the Om­buds­man in Ta­cloban, Leyte. Also charged with De Lima was vil­lage coun­cil­man Nel­son Pepito Jr., who al­legedly trans­ported drugs for the syn­di­cate.

Espenido said the charges against De Lima and Pepito were backed by tes­ti­monies from three al­leged mem­bers of Ker­win’s syn­di­cate.

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