Senator Leila M. de Lima has challenged her former colleagues and co-workers at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to salvage the department she once served from gross mismanagement and further embarrassment.
De Lima made this call as she noted the growing demoralization that plagues the DOJ where some of its executives and employees were forced to do jobs with questionable motives and comply with unreasonable orders.
“The very worst case of being inundated with people who are out to pad their own interests, even at the expense of the reputation and dignity of the institution and its people,” she said in her reflection.
“The employees of the DOJ can still reclaim its dignity and reputation for excellence and integrity. They just have to do it themselves and not be brought down to other people’s level,” she added.
When she was justice secretary, De Lima had led a series of surprise inspections of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City that resulted in the confiscation of contrabands, such as drugs, weapons, phones and laptops.
These raids also demolished gaudy abodes and ended the luxurious lifestyles of high-profile inmates who illegally kept not only flat screen TVs, sex toys, stripper bar and Jacuzzi spread but also entertained sex workers.
“We had to file charges against others who were caught red-handed committing corrupt acts using their position in the DOJ. Mahirap, but it had to be done. It earned me a lot of enemies, but that was not then, nor is it now, a reason for me to act any differently,” she pointed out.
The Senator from Bicol, however, remained hopeful that her former colleagues would be able to overcome the circumstances dictated upon them as they continue to genuinely uphold the rule of law, without fear or favor.
“I hope that my former colleagues and co-workers, whom I will continue to pray and look out for, can endure these dark times and remain above the dirty fray. The people at the top cannot define you and your institution if the vast majority do not follow the bad examples being set,” she said.
De Lima recalled how she treated the Department as a “family of her own choosing,” even seeing herself as a “mother” to every member and unit under her watch.
While there may be a few members who have gone astray, she also believed the institution can still reclaim its identity of Justice, Peace, and Work, as written in the DOJ motto, adding that the workforce of the Department are its greatest resource.