MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima’s arraignment was reset once again on Friday, March 16, as she demanded the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors to show their physical evidence against her.
De Lima was supposed to be arraigned on Friday for two of the three drug trade charges against her, now being handled by Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205, but the settings were postponed due to her pending motion.
De Lima’s Omnibus Motion requested the court, among others, to order the DOJ to produce their physical evidence against her and let her lawyers inspect them.
“Meron silang binabanggit na bank account kung saan idineposito yung pera, e nasaan ang bank account na 'yun? Gusto naming malaman (They mentioned a bank account where money was deposited, where is that bank account? We want to know),” says De Lima’s lawyer Filibon Tacardon
De Lima, the staunchest critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, is accused of conspiring with her subordinates when she was still the justice secretary, as well as her bodyguard-cum-lover Ronnie Dayan, to solicit campaign funds from drug convicts inside Bilibid. Drug convicts testified to trading illegal drugs inside prison to produce the money.
De Lima was joined in court on Friday by Dayan and another former aide, Joenel Sanchez. The three were cordial in court, chit-chatting and smiling at each other at times. De Lima's supporters, however, booed Dayan as he was being taken back to the Muntinlupa City Jail.
The next schedules for arraignment are on May 18, which now makes this case one year and three months going without an arraignment.
WATCH: De Lima’s supporters boo Ronnie Dayan as he is escorted back to the Muntinlupa City Jail after a set arraignment that was postponed pic.twitter.com/TMfiKBO3QD — Lian Buan (@lianbuan) March 16, 2018
Effect of Lim, Espinosa dismissal
Tacardon said they plan to file a manifestation to the court about how DOJ’s dismissal of charges against alleged drug lords Peter Lim and Kerwin Espinosa and drug convict Peter Co affects their case.
Co and Espinosa testified against De Lima at the DOJ level. Co was cleared of the charges to be utilized as state witness along with other inmates.
“Yung desisyon ng DOJ kung bakit nila ibinasura yung kaso laban kay Peter Lim at Kerwin Espinosa, 'yun na rin ang matagal na naming sinasabi. Unang una wala naman kayong maipakitang droga sa illegal drug trading, bakit yung kay Kerwin Espinosa dinismiss? Nung sinampahan ng illegal drug trading si De Lima, wala rin naman kayong pinakitang droga eh, pero iba ang pamantayan nila hindi raw kailangan,” Tacardon said
(The DOJ’s decision in dismissing the charges against Peter Lim and Kerwin Espinosa are the same reasons we have been raising long before. There is no physical proof of drugs, but in Kerwin’s case they dismissed the charges. But when they charged De Lima, there was no proof of drugs, but they followed a different standard, they said it was not necessary.)
The Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) has complained to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II that Espinosa was no longer a credible state witness. Espinosa remains under the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
“Ku-kuwestiyunin namin ang credibility ng lahat ng sinasabi nilang drug lords (We will question the credibility of all the drug lords),” Tacardon said.
DOJ Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ramonsito Ocampo confirmed that former BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos is now free and considered state witness. He was formerly charged with De Lima in one of the cases, as supposedly among the senator's cohorts.
“He has already executed an affidavit,” Ocampo said.
The DOJ also asked the court to order the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center to explain why they should not be sanctioned for failing to bring to the court on Friday former Bureau of Corrrections (BuCor) chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu.
Bucayu and De Lima are both detained inside the custodial center, but the police claimed they were notified late of the order to bring Bucayu too. The court said there was only one notice for De Lima and Bucayu. – Rappler.com