Leila de Lima

EXPLAINER: Why court allowed Leila de Lima to post bail

Jairo Bolledo

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

EXPLAINER: Why court allowed Leila de Lima to post bail

FREED. Former senator Leila de Lima holds a press briefing after her release from detention at the PNP Custodial Center, in Quezon City on November 13, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

After running through the testimonies of the witnesses, the court says the testimonies were unable to clearly establish that conspiracy exists among the accused to engage in illegal drug trading

MANILA, Philippines – After exactly six years, eight months, and 21 days, former senator Leila de Lima secured her temporary freedom after a Muntinlupa court allowed her to post bail.

On Monday, November 13, Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 206 Presiding Judge Gener Gito granted De Lima’s motion for reconsideration of her bail. She had to ask the current judge after her original bail petition was junked by Branch 256 back in June.

Since De Lima already secured two acquittals and was granted bail in the third and last drug case, she was allowed to leave her Camp Crame custodial center after completing bail procedures Monday night. De Lima was accused of allegedly enabling the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

She and her fellow accused – former Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Bucayu, former aides Ronnie Dayan and Joenel Sanchez, and alleged bagman Jose Adrian Dera – were ordered to pay bail amounting to P300,000 each.

After completing the final requirements for her bail inside her detention facility in Camp Crame, De Lima immediately headed to Quezon City for her first press conference in almost seven years. A day later, on November 14, De Lima also visited and prayed at Manaoag church as part of her devotion to the Virgin Mary.

Her bail was De Lima’s latest legal victory in her long fight for freedom. But what were the court’s reasons for allowing De Lima to post bail?

EXPLAINER: Why court allowed Leila de Lima to post bail
On witnesses

In his decision, Judge Gito said that the prosecution must be able to prove that there is strong evidence of guilt to show that: a) conspiracy exists among all the accused to commit illegal drug trading, and b) that illegal drug trading was, in fact, committed in a manner alleged in the case.

The court, in the ruling, explained that conspiracy exists when two or more people agreed on the commission of a crime and decided to commit it. In other words, conspiracy “is either a crime in itself or
a mere means to commit a crime.”

One by one, the judge dissected and checked the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses. Judge Gito dissected the testimonies of the following:

  • Retired general Benjamin Magalong
  • Retired police colonel Jerry Valeroso
  • Renante Diaz
  • Nonito Arile
  • Engelberto Durano
  • Noel Martinez
  • Joel Capones
  • Herbert Colanggo
  • Jojo Baligad

After running through the testimonies of these witnesses, the court said the testimonies were unable to clearly establish that conspiracy exists among the accused to commit illegal drug trading.

“Thus, assessing the totality of the evidence presented by the prosecution, the Court is of the firm view and so holds that accused De Lima, Bucayu, Dayan, Sanchez and Dera should be allowed to post bail as the prosecution was not able to discharge its burden of establishing that the guilt of the said accused is strong,” the court said.

On alleged conspiracy

Based on the allegations, De Lima, along with Bucayu, Sanchez, Dera, and Jaybee Sebastian, are being accused of conspiring to commit illegal drug trading. The allegations of conspiracy include all of them and allegedly “each of them is alleged to take part in the agreement.”

“Thus, it is logical to expect that each of them would perform acts which if weaved together, would constitute an agreement to commit illegal drug trading. Therefore, the respective acts of each accused must indicate unity of criminal design,” the court explained.

The court said that conspiracy means the persons involved should have allegedly participated “with each performing acts geared towards accomplishing a common criminal design.” These are the things needed to apply the principle that the “act of one is the act of all.”

However, the court had this to say: “The evidence so far presented by the prosecution failed to prove the individual act of the accused which, when combined, will prove complicity.”

Must Read

Why De Lima defied security advice, chose Manaoag as her first stop

Why De Lima defied security advice, chose Manaoag as her first stop

The court noted that De Lima’s supposed conversation with Colanggo will not prove that the former senator instructed the witness to trade drugs inside Bilibid. It also added that De Lima’s supposed receipt of an Hermes bag containing $10,000 “is not a clear indicative that she authorized Colanggo and any other inmates to trade drugs inside NBP.”

Aside from these, Diaz’s testimony that he heard De Lima saying on the phone “Okay, so bilisan ‘nyo (Okay, so make it quick),” even if assumed to be true, “is not sufficient proof of overt acts leading to conspiracy,” the court explained.

“There was no evidence that De Lima authorized, commanded or requested Sebastian or Capones to raise funds for her senatorial candidacy by using inmates in selling illegal drugs. These supposed acts of De Lima cannot be imputed against other accused,” the ruling read.

On Sebastian, the court said he was the only one “who was proven to have committed illegal drug trading.” But the “evidential link” between Sebastian and De Lima, including other accused, was not established, the court said.

“…Almost all the information that would provide the link between Sebastian and the other accused came from Sebastian. Unfortunately for the prosecution, Sebastian cannot anymore confirm the assertion of its witnesses,” the court explained. He died in July 2020 reportedly from COVID-19 and was immediately cremated.

For now, the trial for De Lima’s last case will continue because the former senator is only out on bail. Her third and last case has yet to be decided on by the court, since it was only assigned to Judge Gito in July this year after a series of re-raffles.

The Supreme Court’s Office of the Court Administrator already instructed the court to finish trial of the case by the first quarter of 2024. If the court decides on De Lima’s favor, she will be completely free with no pending drug charges. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Avatar photo


Jairo Bolledo

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