Marcelino's freedom a deal to pin me down – De Lima
MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima said on Friday, May 19, that the justice department's dismissal of drug charges against Marine Colonel Ferdinand Marcelino was a "brazen" deal to pin her down.
"A deal has been struck na mag-testify din siya (for him to also testify) against me. Sayang (it's a shame), I thought he was a man of honor. I hope I'm wrong that despite the pressure na hindi pa rin siya magpapagamit (he won't let himself be used)," De Lima told a handful of reporters who were able to enter the courtroom on Friday at the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) Branch 34.
De Lima, responding to questions on how she's been coping with life in detention so far, said: "Mahirap pero kaya. Lalo na't meron na naman silang niluluto, Marcelino. Apparently hindi niya na nakakayanan 'yung pressure sa kanya. Matagal na nila 'yang project."
(It's hard but I'm managing. Especially now that they're cooking up something, Marcelino. Apprently he can no longer handle the pressure on him. It's been their longtime project.)
The Department of Justice (DOJ) dismissed the drug charges against Marcelino in a resolution on May 17, saying there is enough proof that the soldier was conducting legitimate intelligence operations when he was caught in a drug raid at a shabu laboratory in Manila in January 2016.
Marcelino was released from military custody on Thursday.
Public Attorney's Office (PAO) chief Persida Acosta said Marcelino is prepared to testify on De Lima's drug charges should he be called by the court.
Acosta told Rappler that Marcelino's relevance in the De Lima case is that "he knows a lot about drug proliferation."
Marcelino and his Chinese informant Yan Yi Shou were arrested in 2016 after a team from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) caught them inside a shabu lab. The DOJ gave merit to the corroboration from the army and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) that Marcelino was an intel officer involved in anti-drug operations.
It was a flip-flop on the part of the DOJ because he was already freed after they dismissed the case against him in May 2016. By September, they reversed their findings and ordered his arrest again. The May 2017 resolution affirmed the May 2016 resolution and reversed the September 2016 findings.
As early as September 2016, De Lima had alleged that Marcelino was being pressured by the Duterte administration to testify against her. At the time, President Rodrigo Duterte had alleged that De Lima, now detained in Camp Crame on drug charges, was a key player in the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice chief.
"Hindi ba obvious 'yan, I don't have to say it, it's so obvious, it's too brazen, sana nag-iisip na po ang mga tao, masyado po 'yan, it's so brazen, they dismiss the case against him, tapos testify naman daw against me, do I have to explain that, do I have to say it?" De Lima told reporters.
(Isn't that obvious? I don't have to say it, it's so obvious, it's too brazen, I hope people can think for themselves, that's too much, it's so brazen, they dismiss the case against him then he's going to testify against me, do I have to explain that, do I have to say it?)
Disobedience to summons
De Lima attended her court hearing on Friday as QC MeTC Branch 34 admitted the prosecution's comment in her disobedience to summons case filed against her by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas, and Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali.
The charges stem from allegations that she influenced her ex-driver and former boyfriend Ronnie Dayan to snub a congressional hearing on illegal drugs last year. De Lima said her text message to Dayan's daughter was merely advice and cannot be considered disobedience.
De Lima filed a motion to dismiss, which Judge Maria Ludmila De Pio Lim junked in March because of timeline technicalities. In April, De Lima refiled the motion which the prosecution commented on and was the subject of Friday's hearing.
Alvarez and Umali were supposed to testify last April but schedule conflicts prompted the court to move it to June 9. One of De Lima's grounds in her motion to dismiss is that the lawmakers could not file a disobedience case if there's no formal resolution from a House committee.
"As far as the congressmen are concerned, what they know is hearsay in nature and the prosecution said they're doing it in their own capacity so personally, I wondered why, but I don't know how the court will rule on that," De Lima's lawyer Boni Tacardon said.
Tacardon added: "The court said they will rule on the issue before June 9, if the court will dismiss the case wala na (then no more of this), but if they continue to hear the case by denying our motion for reconsideration, they will testify on June 9."
De Lima's media officer Ferdie Maglalang said the senator remains in high spirits especially ahead of Friday's hearing because she had just been visited by her children the day before. De Lima's younger sister Caroline was also at the QC MeTC on Friday to show support.
Maglalang said De Lima has written Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III a formal letter requesting that she be allowed to vote on bills, especially "ones close to her heart like the death penalty." (READ: De Lima to seek court nod to join Senate debates) – Rappler.com