By Hannah Torregoza
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has deplored the Duterte administration’s move to deploy an “army of special prosecutors” to indict her from the illegal drug charges filed against her which she said are fabricated.
De Lima made the statement after the Department of Justice (DOJ) designated 18 personnel as part of the Prosecution Panel, and placed them under the supervision of National Prosecution Service (NPS) chief Prosecutor General (PG) Benedicto Malcontento.
“I detest in the utmost sense the latest move of DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra to deploy an army of special prosecutors led by no less than the Prosecutor General himself, PG Malcontento, for the sole purpose of prosecuting the farcical criminal cases filed against me,” De Lima said in her recent statement.
“That the PG himself is so named in no uncertain terms only raises fears of malcontent,” added De Lima, who is one of the most vocal critic of the Duterte administration.
De Lima recalled that last October 4, the DOJ secretary designated 11 trial prosecutors and seven DOJ administrative support and paralegals under the supervision of the prosecutor general to handle De Lima’s drug cases before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
Guevarra had claimed the move was “purely administrative matter” in reinforcing more government prosecutors to convict her.
However, De Lima maintained that the DOJ evidently acted on Duterte’s order to keep her in illegal and unjust detention and ensure her conviction at all costs.
“Wala na bang aatupagin ang DOJ sa ilalim ni Duterte kung hindi siguraduhing manatili akong nakakulong hanggat mahatulan ng habambuhay na pagkabilanggo? (Does the DOJ have nothing else to do under the Duterte administration but to make sure I will remain incarcerated until I am sentenced to life imprisonment?)” De Lima said.
“Bakit hindi pa ikaw Sec. Guevarra ang mismong maging punong taga-usig doon sa korte sa Muntinlupa? Bakit mo pa ipinasa kay Malcontento? (Why don’t Secretary Guevarra become the primary prosecutor before the Muntinlupa court? Why does he have to give it to Malcontento?)” she asked.
“Hindi personal na law office ni Duterte ang DOJ at ang gobyerno na gagawin lamang mga utusan sa pang-aapi at pang-aalipusta ang mga public prosecutors(The DOJ and the government is not Duterte’s personal law office that he could just order public prosecutors around to harass and intimidate people),” she added.
De Lima, a former justice secretary, reminded the DOJ personnel that they have a mandate not only to go after guilty offenders with the firmest resolve but also to ensure with equal resoluteness that no injustice is done to innocent ones like her.
“What do they gain if they have the whole world by satisfying their master’s whims, but lose their soul? I will, in due time, hold these prosecutors to account for prosecutorial misconduct or abuse. They are forewarned,” she said. [Hannah L. Torregoza]