18 months after arrest, De Lima finally arraigned in drugs cases
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Leila De Lima was arraigned for 1 count of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 on Friday, August 10.
De Lima refused to enter a plea before Judge Amelia Fabros Corpuz, calling it “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,” De Lima said.
As per procedure, Corpuz entered a no guilty plea on De Lima’s behalf. Corpuz handles another count of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading, which De Lima is yet to be arraigned for due to a pending motion.
De Lima was first arraigned at Branch 206 in July for the 3rd and last count of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.
The arraignments concluded 18 months of resets and delays since February 2017 when she was arrested and detained.
Charges of conspiracy
The Department of Justice (DOJ) spent months amending its charges against De Lima, changing it from illegal drug trading to conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading. De Lima earnestly fought the amendment, saying they are two different crimes.
De Lima brought it up again on Friday.
“I see that 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. How can I be charged under a single information with two distinct offenses?” De Lima said.
After the hearing, De Lima shouted on her way out of the court: “Huwag maniwala, huwag magpauto kina Arroyo at Duterte! (Don’t believe, don’t be fooled by Arroyo and Duterte!)”
The trial that will follow will thresh out all the core issues of the charges against De Lima. The senator has demanded that the DOJ show physical evidence against her like money trail of the supposed money she earned from the Bilibid Drug Trade to fund her 2016 senatorial campaign.
So far, the DOJ has anchored its charges on the testimonies of convicted drug lords, who have turned state witness against De Lima. – Rappler.com