By Philippines News Agency
The camp of high-profile inmate Jaybee Niño Sebastian is set to file before the Senate an ethics complaint against former justice secretary and now Senator Leila De Lima.
Lawyer Eduardo Arriba, Sebastian’s counsel, said they intend to file another complaint, this time before the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges against Senator De Lima in response to her claim that Sebastian was a government asset.
”Next week, we will file another complaint this time with the senate committee on ethics and privileges based on the same act. More particularly on the disclosure, the disclosure that JB is an asset of the government happened during the time when she was already a senator and the presscon was conducted at the halls of the Senate. It has something to do with her function as senator of the republic. Next week siguro, if not Monday or Tuesday,” he told reporters on Friday after filing graft and other criminal charges, including torture, against De Lima before the DOJ.
On Friday, Sebastian, represented by his wife, Roxanne, and Arriba, filed a 23-page complaint against De Lima, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Ricardo Rainier Cruz, and former New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Superintendent Richard Schwarzkopf Jr., for cases of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act; Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees; and Anti-Torture Act of 2009.
Roxanne also filed additional complaints of violation of the Presidential Decree no. 46, otherwise known as “An Act Punishing the Receiving and Giving of Gifts of Public officials and Employees”, and indirect bribery against Senator De Lima.
Arriba explained the complaint of indirect bribery was based on Sebastian’s sworn statement when he testified before the House of Representatives Committee on Justice on the matter of the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the NBP.
He noted the indirect bribery complaint was due to De Lima’s order to Sebastian to raise funds for her senatorial campaign, noting that his client handed over a sum of “more or less P10 million” to the senator.
”The basis for this complaint of indirect bribery was the sinumpaang salaysay of Sebastian as well as his testimony given during the house probe on proliferation of illegal drugs more particularly the allegation of Sebastian that immediately after the raid of the NBP maximum security compound three days after he was required by respondent De Lima through Joenel Sanchez to raise funds to support the candidacy of respondent delima for senator in the may 9 2016 elections,” he said.
He noted on the violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act refers to the act of Senator De Lima in disclosing to the media and the public that Sebastian was a government asset.
He added that this disclosure “led to the stabbing incident wherein Sebastian was a victim of a frustrated murder.”
The said incident happened on the morning of Sept. 28, when a fight broke out among inmates that led to Tony Co’s killing and the wounding of Sebastian, Vicente Sy, and Peter Co. Sebastian pointed to fellow inmate Clarence Dongail as the assailant in the said incident, adding that the latter served as De Lima’s asset.
After Sebastian’s discharge from the hospital, he returned to Building 14 under the close watch of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF).
But Arriba said that they would continue to file a request for his client be transferred to a safer place.
The anti-torture complaint was filed due to De Lima’s order isolating Sebastian as he was transfer to Building 14 was a violation of the Anti-Torture Act.
Sebastian’s camp added: “Prison isolation fits the definition of torture as stated in several international human rights treaties, and this constitutes a violation of human rights law.”
When asked why the complaint was filed at the DoJ, instead of an earlier anticipated motion before the Office of the Ombudsman, Arriba cited the “pendency of other cases” against Senator De Lima, as well as “considering that the allegations in the complaint of Sebastian [are] interrelated or interconnected with the [other charges filed at the] DoJ.”
Sebastian’s complaint is the third against De Lima at the DOJ. The first was filed on Oct. 11 by the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption (VACC), led by its president Dante Jimenez. The complaint was grounded on the senator’s alleged violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Two days later, a second complaint was filed by former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officials Reynaldo O. Esmeralda and Ruel M. Lasala, citing the same violation.
The DOJ organized a five-man panel on Oct. 14 headed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter L. Ong. Other prosecutors in the team are Senior Assistant City Prosecutor (SACP) Alexander P. Ramos, SACP Leila R. Llanes, SACP Evangeline P. Viudez-Canobas, and Assistant State Prosecutor Editha C. Fernandez.
Aside from drug-trafficking charges, a disbarment complaint filed against her last October 28.
The anti-corruption watchdog group, together with former NBI Deputy Directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala and jueteng whistleblower Sandra Cam, said that De Lima should be disbarred for gross immorality, violation of the Lawyers Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.
De Lima also faces election protest filed recently before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) by former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Francis Tolentino, who placed 13th in the senatorial race held in May.