FILE PHOTO: Senator Leila de Lima
Despite objections from the camp of Senator Leila de Lima, the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205, presided by Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz, pushed through with arraignment of the senator on charges of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.
She is accused of conspiring with high-profile inmate, Peter Co who supposedly gave the former Justice Secretary P3-M and a vehicle in exchange for allowing illegal drugs into the national penitentiary through coordination with Jose Adrian Dera.
De Lima refused once again to enter a plea in what she called “a sham case.”
“Your Honor, this charge is pure invention, pure fabrication. It’s a sham case. So there’s nothing to plead to. So therefore, I refuse to enter a plea,” she told the judge at her arraignment on Friday.
Under the court rules, when a defendant refuses to enter a plea, an automatic “not guilty” plea is entered by the court on his or her behalf.
The Department of Justice initially filed drug trading charges against De Lima but later amended it to conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.
De Lima’s camp protested the amendment claiming that the prosecution substituted an entirely new information
considering that the original crime they have imputed against her was that of illegal drug trading.
“The amended information is a duplicitous charge, a flagrant violation against me, of my constitutional right to be duly informed of the nature of the accusations against me,” she said.
Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz junked earlier the senator’s motion for reconsideration which sought the review of new information and charges filed against her by the Department of Justice.
De Lima’s camp insisted that up to now, the prosecution team has yet to identify the type of drugs that were allegedly used in the purported drug trade and other evidence they plan to present against her.
“Yun nga ‘yung masakit doon ‘eh. Ni hindi nga namin alam kung anong sasakyan ‘yung kinuha ni Sen. De Lima,” said Atty. Tacardon.
De Lima’s legal team is currently preparing for the pre-trial of the case in September. — Mai Bermudez