Court junks indirect contempt case vs De Lima, lawyer

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Court junks indirect contempt case vs De Lima, lawyer
In this photo taken February 17, 2021, Sen. Leila De Lima attends the trial of the third drug case she is facing at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 256.
Office of Sen. Leila De Lima / release

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 11:01 a.m.) — A Muntinlupa court has dismissed the Department of Justice’s indirect contempt plea against Sen. Leila de Lima and her lawyer over statements made on trial.

The Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206 dismissed the petition to cite De Lima and her legal counsel Filibon Tacardon for indirect contempt, for lack of merit.

“[W]hat Atty. Tacardon reported to the media are mere echoes of the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. The Court does not find malice in them nor contumacious in those statements,” Presiding Judge Gener Gito said.

The petition is an off-shoot of the ongoing conspiracy to commit drug trade case filed against De Lima.

In December 2020, DOJ prosecutors accused De Lima and Tacardon of “misinformation” that is deemed an “affront to the lawful proceedings” of the court in their “obvious desire to attack or insult” the court’s independence.

Specifically, the prosecution cited Tacardon’s statements where government prosecutors and New Bilibid Prison inmates take the witness stand. He said an Anti-Money Laundering Council investigator and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency forensic examiner testified that they found no suspicious transactions between the senator and drug convicts.

But the court said: “Nothing in Tacardon’s comments would create a ‘clear and present danger’ to the administration of justice.”

“What respondent Atty. Tacardon reported are the answers of the prosecution witnesses during their cross-examination. Respondent Atty. Tacardon merely reported the admissions made by those witnesses,” it added.

“The supposed admissions reported by respondent Atty. Tacardon to the media were not fabricated, edited, slanted or couched in such a manner that it may influence the judge,”  the court also said.


The dismissal came weeks after three personalities linked to the case, including the government’s star witness former Bureau of Corrections Rafael Ragos and De Lima’s co-accused and former aide Ronnie Dayan have recanted their testimonies against De Lima.

Incoming Justice Secretary Crispin “Boying” Remulla said he is open to reviewing the cases filed against De Lima, noting that the three retractions are “red flags” that something is wrong in the cases.

So far, De Lima has been acquitted in one of the three drug charges against her. She has been detained for more than five years now at the police headquarters in Quezon City, and with the failure of her re-election bid, the lawmaker said she is going to focus on the dismissal of her cases.

She already moved for the dismissal of her second case, where star witness Ragos recanted his allegation of handing a total of P10 million to Dayan.

“Accused De Lima respectfully submits that, at this juncture, she is already entitled to the outright dismissal of the charges against her given the utter lack of sufficient evidence to support her conviction; and, at the very least, to immediate release on bail given the utter absence of ‘strong’ evidence of her guilt,” De Lima said.



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