The Department of Justice and the Senate leadership were heavily criticized by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) on Sunday for allowing Senator Leila de Lima to travel abroad despite an going investigation into her alleged involvement in illegal drug trade, The Manila Times Online reported on Monday.
VACC and other nongovernmental organizations staged a small protest near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, accusing the embattled former justice secretary of blatantly disrespecting legal system.
De Lima who is accused of accepting protection money from drug lords imprisoned at the New Bilibid prison left the Philippines on Sunday afternoon on an Emirates Air flight for the United States to accept an award, and to Berlin to speak before a conference on cultural diplomacy.
While De Lima was put on an immigration watch list, the Bureau of Immigration allowed her to leave the country because she has not been formally charged as alleged.
Earlier, De Lima assured the public that she would return to the country. She is expected to be back in Manila on December 20.
VACC founding chairman Dante Jimenez said the DOJ erred for allowing De Lima to leave the country because she has public accountability. He noted that the senator ignored different investigating bodies looking into the allegations against her.
He also lashed out at Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd for giving De Lima the clearance to leave the country.