DOJ wants De Lima drug cases consolidated
(The Philippine Star) - March 4, 2017 - 12:26am

MANILA, Philippines - State prosecutors want the three drug cases against Sen. Leila de Lima consolidated under one trial court – preferably the one presided over by the same judge who issued the warrant for her arrest.

In a two-page motion, prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) asked the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (MCRTC) Branch 204 to consolidate and handle the three cases against the senator. Judge Juanita Guerrero, presiding judge of Branch 204, ordered De Lima’s arrest last Feb. 23.

The same motion was filed with the two other courts handling other drug-related charges against De Lima – Branch 206 of Judge Patria Manalastas and Branch 205 of Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz.

“We will oppose the motion,” defense lawyer Teddy Rigoroso told The STAR without elaborating.

The case against De Lima in Guerrero’s sala is docketed as Criminal Case No. 17-165, which is for violation of Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 and sections of Republic Act No. 1965 or Illegal Drug Trading.

De Lima’s co-respondents were Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Marcos Ragos and her former driver Ronnie Palisoc Dayan. MCRTC Branches 205 and 206 handle the two other cases.

“Records show that the cases arose from similar set of facts, there are common parties and issues; and interrelated evidence will be presented in Court, as the cases are found on the same facts and/or forming part of a series of offenses similar in character,” the DOJ said.

“Thus, the three cases may be tried jointly by one branch of the Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa City pursuant to Rule 119, Section 22, of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure,” it added.

The DOJ also explained that since Branch 204 handles the case against De Lima and company with the lowest docket number “justice and expediency demand that it is more practical and will serve the ends of justice to consolidate all three cases in the said branch to avoid unnecessary costs and to prevent the issuance of conflicting resolutions, orders and decisions.”

Return Senate security

Meanwhile, Liberal Party president Sen. Francis Pangilinan called on Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III yesterday to order the return of the members of the Senate security to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center where De Lima is detained.

Pimentel confirmed that he had ordered the withdrawal of the two members of the Senate security assigned to De Lima at her detention facility.

In pulling out the Senate security for De Lima, Pimentel explained it was useless for them to remain at the Custodial Center as they were not allowed to get near her cell anyway.

He said the PNP allowed the two Senate security personnel to get only within 50 meters from the detention facility.

But Pangilinan said Pimentel should negotiate instead with the PNP for a better spot for the Senate personnel to help secure De Lima.

De Lima has been airing concerns over her safety at the PNP Custodial Center despite President Duterte’s and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa’s assurances that she would be safe at the detention center.

“Each day I am here my life is at risk,” De Lima said in a statement issued from detention.

“I can never trust him (Duterte) because he is a murderer and he is capable of having me killed. Anything can happen to me while in detention,” she wrote. “While I have no complaints about my custodians – they are very professional and courteous – I feel completely defenseless here. Each day I am detained is a day of injustice. What is being done to me is extraordinary,” she added.

Pimentel said the withdrawal of the Senate security personnel was not permanent and that negotiations would be made for better arrangements.

At the moment, however, the Senate has no choice but to respect the rules of the PNP as the entity in charge of the detention facility, the Senate president said. – Evelyn Macairan, Perseus Echeminada, Marvin Sy


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