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Leila slapped with disbarment rap

Her legal woes are far from over.
An anti-crime group along with former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officials has initiated a disbarment complaint against embattled Sen. Leila de Lima.
In a 43-page complaint before the High Court’s Office of the Bar Confidant, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), together with former NBI officials Reynaldo Esmeralda,Ruel Lasala and whistle-blower Sandra Cam, said de Lima should be disbarred for gross immorality, violation of the Lawyers Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.
“The practice of law is a privilege…It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate of due process once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics,” the complaint stated and was premised  on the testimonies of witnesses before the House committee on justice’s probe on the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Witnesses including NBI officials, high profile inmates, complainants said “respondent in this case knew that what were sold and traded were all prohibited drugs. Sen. de Lima did not only provide protection for the incarcerated drug lords to ensure the proliferation of illegal drug trade, not only inside Bilibid but also from the outside.”
The witnesses who testified in Congress against de Lima are  former NBI Deputy Director and former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos; NBI agent Jovencio P. Ablen; Presidential Security Group (PSG) member Joenel Sanchez; PSG member Romel Falcasantos; P/Supt. Jerry C. Valeroso; Reynante D. Diaz; Rodolfo T. Magleo (Bilibid inmate); Herbert R. Colanggo (Bilibid inmate); Noel G. Martinez (Bilibid inmate); Jaime Patcho (Bilibid inmate); Hans Anton Tan (Bilibid inmate); Froilan “Poypoy” L. Trestiza (Bilibid inmate); Jojo R. Baligad (Bilibid inmate); Engelberto A. Durano (Bilibid inmate); Nonilo A. Arile (Bilibid inmate); Joel D. Capones (Bilibid inmate); Wu Tuan Yuan aka Peter Co (Bilibid inmate); and Vicente Sy (Bilibid inmate).
Complainants said de Lima tolerated the illegal drug trade inside prison to support her Senate bid. They noted that de Lima spent P86.1-million during the campaign.
“For all the advertisements she contracted during the election campaign, where would she get the money from? One cannot  turn a blind eye on her actual source of fund. She had generous benefactors from inside the Bilibid,” the complaint stated.
The complaint also mentioned de Lima’s alleged illicit relationship with her former driver, Ronnie Dayan.
The complaint cited the testimony of Sanchez who, before Congress said he saw the two videos of de Lima when her driver  managed to pry into Dayan’s phone.
Sanchez also described de Lima’s closeness to Dayan.
“Measured against the definition of gross immorality, we find Senator de Lima’s actions grossly immoral. Her actions were so corrupt as to approximate a criminal act, for she has a relationship with a married man, who in all appearances, was married to another and with whom he has a family. Her actions were also unprincipled and reprehensible to the highest degree,” the complaint stated.
“All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent (de Lima) was grossly imprudent in managing her personal affairs.
“The fact remains that her relationship with Ronnie Dayan, a married man, is grossly immoral. Worse, she never denied such relationship,” it added.
De Lima has three other disbarment cases pending. All the other cases were filed in 2012.
Lawyer Agustin Sundiam asked the high court to take disciplinary action against de Lima and former presidential spokesman  Edwin Lacierda for their utterances and remarks on national television where they called Chief Justice Renato Corona a “lawless tyrant”.
Sundiam said the two secretaries violated their oath as lawyers requiring them to “observe and maintain the respect and dignity due to the courts of justice and judicial offers.”
The other complaints against de Lima were filed separately by Atty. Ricardo Rivera and Fernando Perito, Nephtali Aliposa, both about de Lima’s alleged defiance in following a Supreme Court temporary restraining order issued November 2011 when she stopped former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Jose Miguel “Mike” Arroyo.
Senator de Lima merely shrugged off the latest case filed against her, that of her probable disbarment as a lawyer.
But de Lima called the latest move a “circus” and its proponents as “clowns” and “puppeteers”
“This is all part of a circus and just like in all circuses, clowns are part of the amusement,” she said in a text message to reporters.
De Lima belittled the complaint lodged before the Supreme Court by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) together with former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) officials Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala as well as whistleblower Sandra Cam.
The group said de Lima should be disbarred for gross immorality, violation of the Lawyer’s Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.
While she tried to put down the case against her, the senator lashed out at the complainants, saying that the likes of Cam, Lasala and Esmeralda are shady characters.
As it is usual with de Lima, she  offered no proof of what she alleges against her foes.
She earlier claimed that Lasala and Esmeralda have an ax to grind against her as they were removed from the NBI during her incumbency as secretary of justice for questionable practices.
They were, however, never charged with any crime by de Lima when she was the chief of the Department of Justice.
“They are all just being used by the master puppeteer and vice versa. They are also using Duterte’s obsession with my destruction to enable themselves, by currying favor with the President and in doing so, attempt to stay relevant despite the banality of their role in all of this circus.
“The role of the three can be more accurately compared to the circus of performing monkeys,” she said.
VACC chair Dante Jimenez, she said, is a creepy clown with a horrible dark mask, obsessed at being in the headlines instead of finding out the truth and justice for the thousands of victims of unresolved drug-related killings in the country.
“I can only shrug my shoulders in utter dismay at how he brings down with him the integrity and credibility of the anti-crime group he heads,” she said, obviously referring to President Duterte.
On Thursday, the VACC filed a supplemental complaint-affidavit before the Department of Justice (DoJ) to bolster their case on her supposed involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs trade inside the National Bilibid Prison (NBP).  
To this move, De Lima dared them to just keep coming with their criminal cases against her, saying that she will in the end be only vindicated as the allegations will only be proven baseless.
“Bring them on. What more is coming? Supplemental? Where did they again pick up the so-called evidence again?  I have not seen the first complaint filed because I have not received any copy of the complaint. Nothing. And from media reports, the basis of that original complaint is  the so-called testimonies given in the House inquiry. Soif that is a supplemental complaint, they probably forgot something to add which was not included in the first one.Or maybe it   may be new so-called witnesses or new so-called evidence,” she said.
De5 going bonkers—GMA counsel
The counsel of former President Arroyo yesterday hit back at the embattled senator, saying that her blame game is due to frustration over illegal drugs raps.
He also said de Lima has gone bonkers.
Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio, Arroyo’s legal representative, said the senator is trying to muddle the issue by finger-pointing.
Instead of making such acts, Topacio said the lady senator should explain why witnesses, not only NBP inmates, but former subordinates, aides and colleagues in the Department of Justice point to her as allegedly having  masterminded the “transformation of the prison into a hub of the nationwide drug trade and her personal cash cow.”
In a statement, Topacio said de Lima blames a supposed cabal composed of President Rodrigo Duterte, former President Arroyo; former Senators Revilla, Estrada and Enrile, certain “PDAF congressmen”, and a powerful religious group for her woes.
“The utter absurdity of her allegations is at once evident. While I cannot pretend to speak for the others pointed to by her, I must emphasize that Mrs. Arroyo is busy making up for lost time by serving her constituents and spending quality time with her family. She has better things to do than bother with a creature like de Lima, whose shenanigans will soon be her own undoing, even without any help from Mrs. Arroyo,” Topacio said.
“These vague denials are, to paraphrase Shakespeare, tales told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” he added.
Topacio also shrugged off de Lima’s claims that the VACC, headed by Jimenez, is being manipulated in the attacks against her.
The VACC filed cases against the lady senator.
“It is recognized the world over as a credible and impartial watchdog group beholden to no group or vested interest,” Topacio said.
Cases filed against de Lima are “not ‘payback’ from persons with axes to grind... but are a direct result of her official misconduct”, Topacio added.
On Thursday, the VACC filed before the DoJ a supplemental complaint which seeks to bolster the drug trafficking charges it has earlier filed against De Lima.
The group said the 52-page supplemental complaint include the affidavits of 18 witnesses who were given testimonies made during the hearings at the House of Representatives regarding the proliferation of drug activities at the NBP.
De Lima is facing violation of Section 5 (sale) in relation to Section 26 (b) (conspiracy to sell) of Republic Act 9165 known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 for allegedly conspiring with other respondents in connection to the illegal drug trade inside the NBP, during her term as DoJ secretary.

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