De Lima refuses to enter plea; eyes former P-Noy as witness

Marje Pelayo   •   February 1, 2019   •   2806

Senator Leila de Lima is flanked by guards as she exits the courthouse to return to her detention cell.

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)

De Lima formally announces bid for Senate reelection in 2022 polls

Marje Pelayo   •   July 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has formally announced her bid for reelection in the 2022 national polls.

In a press release issued by her camp, De Lima said “the political persecution she has been subjected to by the Duterte regime only strengthened her resolve to fight for her advocacies.”

De Lima said her “unjust detention” prompted her to seek reelection and work harder “to defend human rights at all cost.”

The lady senator earlier chided President Rodrigo Duterte for failing to fulfill all of his campaign promises.

This, she expressed through a letter to the Chief Executive days before Duterte’s sixth and final state of the nation address (SONA).

Among the issues she referred to include illegal drugs, corruption, the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and the state of the country’s economy.

“Mahigit na apat na taon mo na akong ipinakulong para maitago ang iyong pagka-inutil, bukod pa sa paghihiganti mo sa akin. Mahigit na apat na taon na ipinagkait mo sa akin, sa aking pamilya, at sa labing-apat na milyon na bumoto sa akin. Mahigit na apat na taon na akin ngayong sisingilin sa pagtatapos ng iyong termino,” she said.

“Tatakbo akong muli. Hindi ako susuko. Tuloy ang laban. Sisingilin ka namin sa anim na taon na pambabalasubas mo sa aming bansa,” De Lima stressed.

Considered as Duterte’s staunchest critic, De Lima is known for her strong opposition to the current administration’s “murderous and failed” war on drugs which she claimed to have resulted in the death of thousands of suspected drug offenders.

She has been in detention since February 24, 2017 over drug charges.

De Lima calls on COVID-19 task force to release qualified detainees to decongest prisons

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 2, 2020

Senator Leila de Lima is urging the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to consider releasing qualified detainees in order to decongest prisons and prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) among Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL).

In a statement, De Lima said the government should not to forget those behind bars and to protect those working in closed facilities.

She also said that due to the congestion of detention facilities, PDL’s cannot practice social distancing which makes them more at risk in contracting the disease.

Even with the enhanced community quarantine, De Lima said the number of arrested individuals keep piling up which leads detention centers to exceed its full capacity.

“Given the state of our jails and prisons, the infection rate will be catastrophic. We thus offer a solution: decongest our jails and prisons through a systematic release of qualified PDLs on humanitarian grounds,” she said.

The qualifications proposed by the senator are:

  • Elder PDLs – 70 years old and above
  • PDLs with serious illness or disability
  • PDLs detained, pre-conviction, for minor non-violent offenses
  • PDLs convicted for minor non-violent crimes

De Lima also stressed that those who committed heinous crimes should not be among being considered for early release.

“If done properly, we would be able to free up additional resources to improve the nutrition and sanitation in the jails and prisons for the remaining PDLs. This will also ease some pressure on the jail and prison health care facilities,” she said. AAC

Malacañang denounces US Senate’s ‘intrusion’ on Phl sovereignty

Maris Federez   •   January 10, 2020

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

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