Court ordered to decide on De Lima's remaining drug case within 9 months

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Court ordered to decide on De Lima's remaining drug case within 9 months
(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 8, 2023, former Philippine senator and human rights campaigner Leila de Lima (C) waves as she arrives at the Muntinlupa Trial Court in Manila. Jailed Philippine human rights campaigner Leila de Lima was acquitted on May 12, 2023 on one of two remaining drug trafficking charges filed against her under the Rodrigo Duterte administration, court officials said.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — The Office of the Court Administrator has ordered the Muntinlupa court handling the last drug charge against former Sen. Leila de Lima to decide on the case within nine months.

In a one-page order dated May 18, Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 256 Presiding Judge Romeo Buenaventura noted that Court Administrator Raul Villanueva issued a memorandum dated April 28 directing that the case against De Lima be prioritized.

The memorandum ordered the court to decide on the case “within the period provided under OCA Circular No. 83-2023, specifically within nine months, considering that the instant case has been pending for six years.”

According to the order, the Muntinlupa court received the OCA memorandum on May 4.

The court has also been ordered to update the OCA as soon as it has been decided on.

“In view thereof, the Panel of Prosecutors is hereby directed to complete and terminate its presentation of evidence on June 5, 19 and 26, 2023, all at 2:00 in the afternoon, as previously scheduled,” the court order, made public on Thursday, read.

The said court is handling the only remaining case of De Lima, as other two were already dismissed in 2021 and 2023, respectively. State prosecutors have already asked the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 to reconsider its ruling dismissing the drug charge against De Lima.

The former senator moved for bail in this court, but she failed, prolonging her detention that started in February 2017. Her lawyers already said they will file a motion for reconsideration on their denied bail plea.

De Lima, in a statement on Thursday, called the denial of her petition “most unfortunate.” She confirmed that they will be filing an appeal, “with the hope that the judge is not yet closed to the perspective that their word, uncorroborated as they are by more acceptable evidence, is utterly unreliable and therefore completely not credible and unworthy of belief.”

“I am of course disappointed. But with a clean conscience, I cannot and will not lose Hope,” she continued.

De Lima has been accused of conspiring in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary. She has repeatedly denied the allegation and asserted that the cases against her—filed during the Duterte administration—are trumped up and politically motivated.

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