De Lima arraigned before QC court, questions jurisdiction
MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima refused to enter a plea during her arraignment on Monday, March 13, as she questioned the jurisdiction of the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) which will hear the disobedience to summons case filed against her by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
De Lima's laywer Fillip Sawali said they've not yet prepared their motion questioning the court's jurisdiction but said this will be filed eventually.
A similar motion to question the jurisdiction of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court, which is handling the drug cases against the senator, will be heard by the Supreme Court (SC) in oral arguments starting Tuesday, March 14.
De Lima maintained that it is the Office of the Ombudsman, and ultimately, the Sandiganbayan which has jurisdiction over her as an elected official.
QC MeTC Branch 34 Judge Ma. Ludmila De Pio Lim entered a not-guilty plea on De Lima's behalf and immediately proceeded to pre-trial.
Judge de Pio Lim denied De Lima's motion for reconsideration, saying it was filed late. Sawali shrugged this off as a minor setback.
De Lima is being accused of violating Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code for telling former driver Ronnie Dayan, through a text to his daughter Hannah Mae, not to attend the House probe into the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the national penitentiary.
De Lima was reported to have texted Dayan's daughter: "Huwag mo siyang pa-attend… pagkakaguluhan lang siya...Pakisabi sa kanya magtago siya, magtago lang muna siya." (Don't let him attend...they'll just make a show of us...Please tell him to go into hiding, to hide in the meantime.)
De Lima's lawyers argue that the text message was a mere advice and does not constitute "inducement."
"Kumbaga dapat siya ay under duress, under intimidation, walang choice sir Mr. Dayan kundi sundin ang sinabi nung inducer, hindi ho ganun ang nangyari dito. Base mismo sa complaint, base mismo sa transcript sa House, humingi ng opinyon si Ronnie Dayan, at ang opinyon ay huwag pumunta, 'yun ay opinyon lang," Sawali told reporters.
(For one to be induced, he should have been under duress, under intimidation, that Mr. Dayan had no choice but to follow the inducer but that's not what happened. Based on the complaint, based on the transcript of the House hearing, Ronnie Dayan asked permission, and the opinion was not to go, that was just an opinion.)
He added: "Wala nga sa initial information yung 'inducement', inamyendahan pa nga 'yan ng DOJ ang unang nakalagay, discouraged, ang discouraged ay hindi po yun inducement, hindi pamimilit, kundi opinyon, hindi yun criminal act."
(The initial information doesn't even contain the word "inducement," that was even amended by the DOJ, they first wrote "discouraged" and discouraged is not inducement, it's not coercing, it was just an opinion and that is not a criminal act.)
Alvarez, Fariñas to testify
The prosecution will start presenting their evidence and witnesses on April 27.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez will be the first witness to take the stand and to be followed by Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rodolfo Fariñas and Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali.
De Lima will be her own witness in the case.
De Lima was met at the QC MeTC by rallying supporters and friends including Fr. Robert Reyes and former Peace Secretary Teresita "Ging" Deles.
Sawali said De Lima's biggest concern is still her safety, but added that the custodians at her Camp Crame detention cell are showing "encouraging" professionalism. – Rappler.com
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