De Lima refuses to enter plea; eyes former P-Noy as witness
Marje Pelayo • February 1, 2019 • 2237
MUNTINLUPA CITY, Philippines – The Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 pushed through on Friday (February 1) the arraignment of Senator Leila de Lima in relation to the drug case filed against her.
De Lima refused to enter a plea and maintained her position that the charges filed against her were all fabricated. The Court entered a not guilty plea for her instead.
The lady senator and her former aide Ronnie Dayan are accused of conspiring with convicted drug lords from inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to trade illegal drugs when she was still Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The trial on the case will begin on February 22.
The defense revealed they have tapped former president Benigno Aquino III to take the witness stand.
His testimony, according to De Lima’s legal counsel, is definitely vital to the case.
“Being the president, he has all the information relative to the topics ng kaso natin. Meaning, we want present him to prove na at all times material sa kaso na ito. There was no issue or even a rumor that would involve senator De Lima sa drug trading because if he knows na mayroon talagang ganyan, he would have taken action against the secretary,” argued Atty. Boni Tacardon.
Other witnesses on the defense side would be former PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa, former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre and former AFP chief of staff now DILG Secretary Eduardo Año.
“Si General Bato has been quoted several times sa newspaper na tinatakot iyong mga witnesses. Marami siyang sinabi regarding sa, itong mga inmates na ito,” Tacardon said.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution panel, meanwhile, remained confident and unfazed by the line up of big names in the defense list of witnesses.
“They will be presenting Año. They will be presenting other military officers. I don’t see any materiality. At the end of the day, we will just wait for the former president to testify,” said prosecutor Romancito Ocampo.
De Lima previously contested the credibility of the drug lords tapped as witnesses by the prosecution to testify against her.
The lady senator claims that those inmates were being pressured to speak against her, something the inmates’ lawyer denied. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Mai Bermudez)
MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte administration has denounced what it calls an intrusion of the US Senate to the country’s sovereignty.
This is in connection with the resolution filed before the upper chamber of the US Congress that urges the Philippine government to free Senator Leila de Lima from detention.
Malacañang said that while it respects the US Senate, it seems that some of its members were misguided.
The office of the President particularly mentioned US Democrat Senator Edward Markey who filed Senate Resolution 142 on Wednesday (US Time) condemning the Philippine government for the on-going detention of Senator de Lima.
Markey is the third US Senator whom the Philippine government had banned entry to the country last week, aside from senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy.
He maintained that they will not be silenced on the measures being taken by the Philippine government.
One of the provisions in the resolution called on US President Donald Trump to impose sanctions against security forces and government officials involved in extrajudicial killings.
Markey said this is in accordance with the “Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act” – a law in the US that allows the US Executive Branch to impose travel restrictions and sanctions against human rights violators, as also asserted by Senator Durbin.
“The Duterte regime should stop threatening the travel of Americans and so many others who travel between our nations and instead ensure a quick and credible trial for Senator de Lima or simply do the right thing and release her,” Dublin said.
The United States Congress official website stated that the US Senate has approved the resolution.
Malacañang, on the other hand, expressed dismay over the move of the US Senate, saying that if the resolution gets implemented, it would be a clear intrusion on the sovereignty of the Philippines.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the Duterte administration has, time and again, reiterated that De Lima’s detention for drug-related cases is in accordance with the law as it was the Court who made such ruling.
“Yung mga statements na ganiyan at resolutions na ganiyan, we deem to be pangingialam. Parang dinidiktahan tayo dun sa kung papaano patakbuhin ang justice system natin. Independent tayo. Sovereign state tayo. So don’t meddle in our sovereignty,” he insisted.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, said that the Duterte administration trusts the US government to be more perceptive in acting on matters pertaining to the sovereignty of another country.
“The Palace, however, trusts that agents of the Executive Branch of the US Government are more discerning and circumspect in the areas of diplomacy and sovereign respect and will act in accordance with credible information and supporting evidence,” Panelo’s statement read.
Senator de Lima, on the other hand, also issued a statement thanking the three US Senators for their support.
“I sincerely thank the granite resolve of Senators Durbin, Markey, Rubio, Blackburn, Coons, Leahy and Cardin, and the rest of the US Senate for standing strong and firm for the larger truths behind my persecution,” de Lima said.
President Donald Trump has 120 days to decide on the said resolution. — (from the report of Rosalie Coz) /mbmf
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin Jr. believes that the US will not easily implement the ban on government officials who were involved in the arrest and detention of Senator Leila de Lima.
On his twitter post, Sec. Locsin said he respects the rights of the US government not to issue a visa or bar any government official who was behind de Lima’s detention as the Philippines is doing the same as one aspect of its sovereignty.
“The only way for accused to go free is after trial; if convicted after pardon. Resolutions by legislature/ executive—native or alien—are of no moment. US can refuse visas to anyone it wants for any reason; the PH deported a nun in that way. It is an aspect of sovereignty,” his tweet reads.
Section 7022 of the measure states that the US Secretary shall submit to the concerned congressional committees a plan to implement corresponding sanctions on gross violation of human rights” particularly “unjust or wrongful detention,” including those of American citizens and nationals.
Democrat Senators Dick Durbin and Patrick Leahy who have earlier said that De Lima’s detention was politically motivated introduced the amendment which the US Senate Appropriations Committee passed in September.
Locsin, however, said that the US Justice and State Departments may not exercise that granted authority for higher reasons of the state like the Indo-Pacific strategy.
The US government is pushing for the Indo-Pacific strategy particularly in countries in Asia for unrestricted trade flow, freedom of navigation, and respect to the rule of law. –(with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf
Supporters of Senator Leila de Lima on Monday launched the Committee for the Freedom of Leila De Lima.
This aims to intensify the public’s awareness on the senator’s condition as a prisoner of conscience.
The lawmaker has been in detention for more than two years for illegal drug-related cases.
“One important characteristic of this committee in what’s happening is were making this a non-partisan issue, of the freedom of Sen. Leila. Any ability to participate as a senator should not be about politics,” Prof. Tony La Viña, one of the conveners, said.
The group is supported by former President Benigno Aquino III who had once been a senator himself, as well as, six former members of the Senate, like senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Rene Saguisag.
The group is appealing for De Lima to be allowed to vote on proposed bills and resolutions, attend Senate sessions and public hearings from her cell at Camp Crame in Quezon City by way of teleconferencing.
The said measure was first proposed by then-Senator Nene Pimentel during President Gloria Magapagal’s term when Senator Trillanes was in detention.
It was not, however, approved by some senators during that time.
“Kaya noong nanalo na si President Aquino nagbago ang ihip ng hangin. Suddenly gumugulong ano, pinayagan. Pero sinesetup pa lang siya noong eventually pinayagan akong makalaya at mabigyan ng amnesty. So hindi na natuloy iyong mga ganoong paraan [So when President Aquino won the elections, the situation had changed. Suddenly it was approved. But they were still setting it up when I was eventually freed and given amnesty. So it did not push through],” Trillanes said.
The former lawmakers have also expressed support for Senate Resolution 51 filed by Senators Panfilo Lacson and Franklin Drilon that seeks to allow De Lima to attend sessions thru teleconferencing.
They said there are important issues that need the opinion of the minority in which De Lima belongs.
The lady senator is facing a case of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading inside the New Bilibid Prisons while she was still the secretary of the Department of Justice. (from the report of Mai Bermudez) /mbmf
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