Court defers De Lima arraignment on 2nd drug trafficking case
MANILA, Philippines – A Muntinlupa court on Friday, June 30, rescheduled the arraignment of detained Senator Leila de Lima for one of the 3 drug cases filed against her.
Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz deferred the senator's arraignment to August 18, following De Lima's opposition to the grounds of the 2nd arrest warrant against her. (READ: TIMELINE: De Lima – from drug probe to arrest)
De Lima went to court and was seen waving at her supporters as she entered the building. While waiting for the judge inside the courtroom, the senator was seen in the front row smiling and laughing with her staff and her lawyer, Alex Padilla.
Fabros-Corpuz ordered the arrest of De Lima and co-accused Jose Adrian Dera last June 21 over allegations that De Lima received money from Peter Co, a high-profile inmate at the New Bilibid Prison, for her senatorial campaign last year.
De Lima has asked the court to recall the arrest warrant on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction and lack of probable cause.
The court gave the prosecution 10 days to comment on De Lima's motion for reconsideration. The latter, in turn, was given 5 days from receipt of comment to reply.
'Flimsiest, weakest' case
De Lima and her camp have called the issue the "weakest" among the 3 drug-related cases filed against her by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
"This is the flimsiest and weakest case of all. They purely relied on statements of convicts," Padilla told reporters in an interview.
The camp of the senator argued that the DOJ has not presented concrete proof to show there was indeed an illegal drug transaction involving her.
They also said the incriminating statements against the senator are triple hearsay. The statements of Co are all based on what he heard from Hans Anton Tan. Tan, in turn, relied on what Dera allegedly told him.
The camp also said De Lima was no longer a government official when the alleged transaction happened. She resigned from the DOJ to run for the Senate on October 12, 2015.
But lead public prosecutor Peter Ong downplayed the allegations and said they gave De Lima the chance to present her side during the preliminary investigation.
"'Yun naman ang sinasabi nila sa lahat ng kaso. They are entitled to their own opinion po. Ang problem kasi with ma'am, we gave her the opportunity to explain during the preliminary investigation. May time pa sinabihan ko siya na sumagot, ayaw talaga sumagot. 'Yung pagiging brod ko sa President ang china-challenge nila," Ong told reporters after the hearing.
(That is what they've been saying about all their cases. They are entitled to their own opinion. The problem with ma'am, we gave her the opportunity to explain during the preliminary investigation. There was even a time I told her to answer, but she really did not want to. Instead, they are questioning my being fratmates with the President.)
De Lima is also facing two other drug cases before Judge Patria Manalastas-de Leon of Branch 206 and Judge Juanita Guerrero of Branch 204, who first ordered her arrest and detention on February 23.
The senator is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center inside Camp Crame in Quezon City. (READ: De Lima in jail: 'I never imagined Duterte would be this vindictive') – Rappler.com