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OMB probes De Lima over NBP drug trade

The Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas is spearheading the fact-finding graft investigation against Senator Leila de Lima for allegedly receiving millions of pesos from drug lords in and out of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to finance her senatorial bid.

Addressing over the weekend the University of the Philippines law alumni homecoming in Manila, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said she finally decided to start the probe based on numerous denunciations and complaints on the alleged role of the lawmaker in the proliferation of the drug trade all over the country during her stint as Department of Justice secretary.

Ombudsman Visayas was tasked to initiate the probe because it was there that Albuera, Leyte police chief Jove Espenido formally filed the first complaint, accusing De Lima of receiving bribe money from Kerwin Espinosa, drug kingpin of the Visayas, who affirmed the charges when he testified before the Senate committee.

“There is some leads and we are giving it due course by conducting preliminary investigation,’ Ombudsman Morales said.

Previously, Morales refused to initiate the investigation against De Lima, saying the charges were “mere allegations.”

Meanwhile, De Lima said she welcomes the Ombudsman’s decision to investigate her.

“The Ombudsman’s decision to conduct a fact-finding investigation on the various allegations concerning the drug trade, including those that attempt to link me to said trade in the most absurd contexts, is only expected,” De Lima said in a statement.

“To investigate such matters is the constitutional mandate of the Ombudsman. The public, including me, expects no less from the Ombudsman, especially Ombudsman (Conchita-Carpio) Morales, who has time and again proven her competence, impartiality and capability to live up to our expectations insofar as making public officers accountable to the public is concerned,” De Lima said.

Several individuals and anti-crime advocates also filed similar charges against De Lima based on the claims of former National Bureau of Investigation officials and high profile inmates of the NBP before the House of Representatives that they also gave huge amount of campaign funds to the embattled senator. (with a report from Hannah Torregoza)