De Lima: Contempt rap baseless, frivolous

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
De Lima: Contempt rap baseless, frivolous
n 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 — Detained Sen. Leila de Lima welcomed the decision of the Muntinlupa regional trial court (RTC) to junk the Department of Justice (DOJ)’s indirect contempt plea against her and one of her legal counsels over media statements made about the trial.

De Lima and her lawyer, Filibon Tacardon, maintained that the “baseless and frivolous” petition lacked merit as it was merely meant to silence her and her legal team.

She said Tacardon was just “reiterating, upon my imprimatur, what some prosecution witnesses stated during their cross examination.”

In a 33-page order dated May 2, which was only released last May 27, Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206, Judge Gener Gito granted De Lima and Tacardon’s motion to dismiss the petition to cite them in indirect contempt for lack of merit.

In filing a petition for indirect contempt against De Lima and Tacardon, government prosecutors accused the two of violating the sub judice rule barring parties to a case from discussing its merits in public to avoid influencing the outcome of the case.

The prosecutors cited two statements by Tacardon to the media stating that officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Anti-Money Laundering Council have cleared De Lima of the illegal drug charges and that drug lord Vicente Sy admitted on the witness stand that he has never met the senator despite previously claiming he gave P500,000 as campaign funds to her in 2012.

The judge said Tacardon’s statements cannot even be considered sub judice because he only restated the admissions of the prosecution witnesses and his statements were “not fabricated, edited, slanted or couched in such a manner that it may influence the judge.”

De Lima said she hopes the recent developments on the cases of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading against her would convince the DOJ to review them.

“Together with the recent retractions of Rafael Ragos, Kerwin Espinosa, and Ronnie Dayan saying that they were all just coerced by Duterte officials into testifying against me, the dismissal of this contempt charge should now convince the DOJ to review my cases once and for all and decide if there is any merit or honor at all in prosecuting an innocent person,” she said.

Due to lack of evidence, one of the three drug cases against her has been dismissed. The two other cases are still pending.– Ralph Edwin Villanueva


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