De Lima likely to be acquitted — Remulla

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com
De Lima likely to be acquitted � Remulla
Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla in a briefing with the reporters on Nov. 15, 2023.
Philstar.com / Ian Laqui

MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said that former senator Leila de Lima will likely be acquitted in her last drug case.

He said this remark after the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206 allowed De Lima to post bail amid a drug charge. 

“A non-bailable case when becomes bailable shows the kind of evidence the prosecution was able to establish in the eyes of the judge,” Remulla said in a press briefing on Wednesday. 

“Lumalabas kasi dito na ang kasong ito ay hindi talaga maaring bigyan ng piyansa kung malakas ang ebidensya, ang kapaligtaran noon, kapag mahina ang ebidensya, may piyansa,” Remulla also said, emphasizing the independence of the judge in the said case.

(It appears here that this case cannot really be granted bail if the evidence is strong, whereas in contrast, if the evidence is weak, there is bail.)

Remulla also said this in an earlier interview with CNN Philippines’ “The Source.”

The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act prohibits bail of individuals with charges covered by the said law. 

De Lima was arrested in 2017 for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 months after she launched a probe into Duterte's drug war. She was accused of being involved in illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.

Last Monday, the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206 granted De Lima’s motion for reconsideration on the denial of the petition for bail she filed last June 7.

The petition for bail was also approved a month after two witnesses recanted their testimonies against De Lima. 

De Lima was granted a favorable ruling on two out of three drug charges, with the first case dismissed and the second leading to acquittal.

Persecution, not prosecution

Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio contends that Leila de Lima's case is more akin to persecution than a prosecution, pointing to concerns regarding the frailty of evidence and the credibility of witnesses.

“This is persecution, not prosecution. Kaya from the very start walang kaso ito,” he said in a press conference in Manila on Wednesday. 

(This is persecution, not prosecution. That's why, from the very start, there was no case.)

Carpio referred to his dissenting opinion in the 2017 case of De Lima at the Supreme Court emphasizing the necessity of establishing a "corpus delicti," or concrete evidence of the crime committed. 

In the context of De Lima's case, Carpio argued that the required proof, such as the actual drugs allegedly involved, was not presented by the authorities or the witnesses.

“Parang ano yan eh you are charged with murder, saan yung body? Saan yung taong pinatay? Pag wala kang mapakitang body ng namatay, you cannot prove the crime there must be the body of the crime must be there,” Carpio explain in the same press conference. 

(It's like this, you are charged with murder, where is the body? Where is the person killed? If you can't show a dead body, you cannot prove the crime; the body of the crime must be there.)

Carpio also mentioned the credibility of the witnesses against De Lima who also cannot show evidence.

“How can you accuse somebody conspiring to sell illegal drugs when you can’t show the drugs?” Carpio said. 

“Dapat binigay tong right to bail noon pa kasi walang base talaga eh,” he added.  

(The right to bail should have been given a long time ago because there's really no basis for it [the case].)

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