DOJ files contempt raps vs De Lima, lawyers
DOJ prosecutors led by Provincial Prosecutor Ramoncito Bienvenido Ocampo Jr. said in a petition filed before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court last Friday that De Lima and her lawyer Filibon Fabela Tacardon have violated the sub judice rule when they allegedly claimed that prosecution witnesses have cleared the senator of any link to illegal drug activities.
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DOJ files contempt raps vs De Lima, lawyers

Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - December 6, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) wants detained Sen. Leila de Lima and her lawyers cited in contempt for allegedly releasing “malicious information” regarding court proceedings on the illegal drug charges filed against her.

DOJ prosecutors led by Provincial Prosecutor Ramoncito Bienvenido Ocampo Jr. said in a petition filed before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court last Friday that De Lima and her lawyer Filibon Fabela Tacardon have violated the sub judice rule when they allegedly claimed that prosecution witnesses have cleared the senator of any link to illegal drug activities.

The prosecutors cited the press statement allegedly made by Tacardon after the bail hearing on Oct. 23.

Tacardon allegedly revealed the testimonies of witnesses Artemio Baculi, financial investigator from the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) digital forensic examiner Krystal Casenas.

Also cited in the petition were the alleged tweaked testimonies of their witnesses and would want to convey to the public that “the panel’s witnesses, Atty. Rigel Salvador, PDL Vicente Sy and Mr. Dennis Alfonso” have already cleared De Lima of illegal drug trading.

“The fact that respondent Atty. Tacardon engages with his revelations or disclosure to the media, with obvious imprimatur of respondent Senator M. De Lima, of any facts (or lack thereof) relating to the case is considered sub judice,” the prosecutors said.

Prosecutors noted that the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205 continues to hear the case of De Lima, whose petition for bail will be submitted for resolution after the panel terminated the presentation of evidence for the purpose of bail hearing on Nov. 13.

They emphasized that the press statements and pronouncements of De Lima’s camp “have the power to persuade, influence, intimidate, incite the perception and sentiments of their colleagues and other government officials, including the trial court judges.”

Court orders DOJ to rest its case

Meanwhile, the court handling the drug cases of De Lima ordered state prosecutors to rest their case after failing to present a witness for the third time last Friday.

During the hearing, the prosecution “lost its last chance” to present its witness, a certain Sally Serrano, who was supposed to testify against De Lima in Criminal Case No. 17-166 before Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205 Judge Liezel Aquiatan.

Serrano, an alleged niece of convicted drug lord Peter Co, was the prosecution’s last witness, according to Fhillip Sawali, De Lima’s chief-of-staff.

In a statement, Sawali said Serrano was a no-show even during the hearings set last Nov. 6 and 27.

“The prosecution appealed for additional time to allow them to present Serrano but the court denied their request,” he said.

“The court instead directed the prosecution to submit their formal offer of evidence within five days and likewise ordered them to rest their main case,” he added.

Both Criminal Cases Nos. 17-165 and 17-166 on conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading are being heard before Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205.

A third case against the senator, Criminal Case No. 17-167, is pending before Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256.

Late last month, a hearing on the case was cancelled and reset for Dec. 15 because the witness, Engelberto Durano, was also unable to take the stand. – Ralph Edwin Villanueva

DOJ LEILA DE LIMA
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