The controversial city fiscal or prosecutor who once likened critics of the Duterte administration to cockroaches has been given a special assignment.
Darwin Cañete is now part of the Department of Justice (DOJ) panel handling Senator Leila de Lima’s drug charges at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC).
Cañete is also back at the Caloocan City Prosecutor’s Office. He was transferred to Mandaluyong at the height of the Kian delos Santos murder controversy, where policemen were charged in an alleged case of summary execution.
The killing sparked public outcry and put the government’s campaign against illegal drugs under scrutiny. As the fiscal to arrive first at the crime scene, Cañete told media that Delos Santos’ innocence was “too far-fetched”.
The statement prompted lawmakers, among them Senator Franklin Drilon, to ask then justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to fire Cañete. Aguirre rejected the call, saying that Cañete is a passionate prosecutor who has the right to free expression. He was instead transferred to Mandaluyong.
Cañete is also controversial for his Facebook posts, including a June 12, 2017 entry, where he said “yellows” should be killed “like cockroaches.” The term “yellows” used to be limited to describe members and allies of the opposition Liberal Party, but Duterte supporters have expanded this to cover all critics of the administration.
“This is why no ceasefire. No stopping. No compromise. Fact is, yellows are evil. You do not talk to them. You kill them. After you kill one, you find another to destroy. Like cockroaches,” the prosecutor said in a Facebook post on June 12, 2017.
De Lima is one of the more prominent LP members.
DOJ Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ramonsito Ocampo said Cañete was given the special assignment by virtue of a department order. We are clarifying with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra if he signed the department order, or if it was one of Aguirre’s last orders.
“Because of his competence in trial, kailangan namin ng competence in trial. Kailangan namin ng may guts (we need someone with competence in trial, we need someone with guts),” Ocampo said, as Cañete beamed beside him.
De Lima was supposed to be arraigned on Friday, June 22, but it was again reset. Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206 Judge Lorna Navarro-Domingo denied the De Lima camp’s motion to quash, but allowed them to file a motion for reconsideration.
The De Lima camp is contesting the amended charges – these had gone from drug trading to conspiracy to commit drug trading.
“Umaalma kami doon. Bakit mo binago? Binago mo na sa tingin namin mali, kasi sinasabi mo nakipagsabwatan pero at the same time, sinabi mo may illegal drug trading, so para sa amin, illegal drug trading ‘yan hindi conspiracy. Ang problema talaga nagsimula sa prosecution,” said De Lima’s lawyer, Boni Tacardon.
(We’re contesting that. Why did you change it? You changed it and we think that is wrong. Because you’re charging her with conspiracy, yet you’re also saying there was illegal drug trading, so for us that should be drug trading, not conspiracy. The problem really started with the prosecution.)
Because the charge is now conspiracy to commit drug trading, Ocampo said they are no longer required to present the corpus delicti or the physical evidence of the crime, in this case, the illegal drugs. (READ: De Lima demands DOJ: Show physical evidence against me)
“This is only a dilatory tactic on the part of the Senator,” Ocampo said.
Outside the court, a handful of supporters chanted “Pekeng Ebidensya, Ibasura (Junk the fake evidence)” as De Lima was whisked off by her police escorts who have gotten so much stricter and wo did their best not to let the senator get a word out to reporters.
Judge Domingo has also given a verbal denial of a formal written request by Rappler to be allowed to enter the courtroom during the public hearings. – Rappler.com