Leila de Lima

De Lima camp: Court to issue resolution on bail ‘very, very soon’

Jairo Bolledo

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De Lima camp: Court to issue resolution on bail ‘very, very soon’

STILL DETAINED. Former senator Leila de Lima attends the hearing on June 5 for her remaining drug-related case filed against her at the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

De Lima's lawyer, Boni Tacardon, says the bail resolution could be issued either before or after the next hearing scheduled on June 19

MANILA, Philippines – Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 256 said it has yet to issue the resolution on former senator Leila de Lima’s petition for bail – almost a month since her camp expected its release.

However, lawyer Boni Tacardon, one of De Lima’s lawyers, quoted the court as saying the bail resolution will be released “very very soon.” Tacardon made the announcement during the hearing of De Lima’s remaining drug charge on Monday, June 5.

The Muntinlupa court was expected by the De Lima camp to release its resolution as early as May 8, on the petition for bail filed by the former lawmaker’s camp. But, the court opted to conduct a hearing after the prosecution filed a formal offer of evidence on April 11.

When De Lima was acquitted in another drug charge on May 12, she was not released from detention since she has one remaining drug charge – and her petition for bail in the said pending case has yet to be issued.

Speaking to reporters, Tacardon added that the bail resolution could be issued either before or after the next hearing scheduled on June 19. De Lima’s petition for bail is important because if the court rules in her favor, she will be temporarily freed after over six years in detention.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Makabayan lawmakers showed their support for De Lima. In attendance were Kabataan Representative Raoul Manuel, Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas, and ACT Teachers Representative France Castro.

Photo by Angie de Silva/ Rappler

A Mass was also held in front of the Muntinlupa City hall of justice, and De Lima’s supporters prayed the Holy Rosary after.

Photo by Angie de Silva/ Rappler

Demurrer to evidence?

According to Tacardon, the prosecution has 20 witnesses in De Lima’s remaining case. Seventeen of them already testified in previous De Lima cases, while the other three are new witnesses.

De Lima’s lawyer said the prosecution offered that the defense can adopt the testimonies of the previous witnesses – since they already testified – to reduce the length of the court proceedings. Among the conditions is no new questions being asked of the previous witnesses.

The De Lima camp said they will still study the offer.

Meanwhile, among the new witnesses being presented by the prosecution are persons deprived of liberty Jerry Pepino, Rodolfo Magleo, and Froilan Trestiza. The prosecution has until June 26 to present their witnesses.

Later on, the De Lima camp can aim for a demurrer to evidence once the prosecution rests its case in the remaining drug charge. In a message to Rappler, Tacardon said they would need to first ask the court’s permission before they could file a demurrer to evidence.

The De Lima camp announced in late 2020 that the court granted their motion for leave to file a demurrer to evidence in the other drug charges. This means the court allowed them to file a petition that sought to dismiss the prosecution’s case on the grounds of insufficient evidence.

In February 2021, Judge Liezel Aquiatan of Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 205 granted De Lima’s demurrer to evidence in Case Number 17-166, but denied the petition in Case Number 17-165.

Granting the demurrer has the same effect as an acquittal. – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.