'Completely free and vindicated': De Lima cleared of all drug charges

Ian Laqui - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — Former Sen. Leila de Lima has been cleared of her last remaining drug charge after the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 206 on Monday granted her motion for demurrer to evidence. 

The outcome of the promulgation was confirmed by De Lima’s lawyer Boni Tacardon on Monday afternoon.

A demurrer is a motion filed on the ground that the evidence presented by the prosecutors is insufficient for a criminal conviction.

If a court grants a demurrer, it effectively dismisses all the charges against an accused. 

The former senator has therefore been cleared of all the drug charges against her following today's promulgation. 

In an ambush interview with De Lima following the promulgation, she said that she feels "free and vindicated."

"The grant of our demurrer to evidence…means now I am completely free and vindicated," she said.

In a separate ambush interview with the members of the press, Prosecutor Ramoncito Ocampo said that the prosecution is still studying if they will file a motion for reconsideration or other legal remedies assailing the decision of the Muntinlupa RTC.

Nevertheless, Ocampo said that the prosecution is "happy" for the former senator as she is their former boss.

"It is still premature on our part, we have still yet to read the decision,...but it is still to be discussed," Ocampo said.

As of writing, the Department of Justice has yet to issue a statement about the dismissal of De Lima's case.

De Lima's cases

De Lima, who has been in detention since February 2017 for her alleged involvement in the New Bilibid Prison illegal drug trade, was granted temporary liberty on November 13 last year after the Muntinlupa RTC allowed her to post bail.

The former senator, now the spokesperson of Liberal Party, her co-accused former Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Jesus Bucayu, former aides Ronnie Dayan and Joenel Sanchez, as well as the former senator’s alleged bagman, Jose Adrian Dera, were also allowed to post bail in the amount of P300,000

Prior to this, it can be recalled that on Oct. 12, 2023, that former policemen Rodolfo Magleo and Nonilo Arile, witnesses who accused De Lima of being involved in the illegal drug trade with late high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian, withdrew their testimonies because they were “bothered by good conscience.”

The former senator, also a former Justice Secretary under the Aquino administration, was also acquitted in the first two drug charges which were filed during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte. De Lima is a known staunch critic of the former Davao mayor and his drug war which saw thousands of casualties.

Meanwhile, the first drug case of De Lima was dismissed by the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205 in 2021 after it granted her motion for demurrer to evidence.

The Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204, on the other hand, acquitted De Lima and his aide Ronnie Dayan in her second drag rap, clearing them of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade in the NBP when she was still the Justice secretary.

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