MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Leila De Lima on Tuesday appealed the dismissal of her plea to post bail and junk the second drug case she is facing, as she questioned the "conspicuous absence" of one of their pleadings in Muntinlupa court's denial order.
In a 70-page motion for reconsideration, De Lima’s lawyer asked the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 to reverse its ruling on February 17 and grant their demurrer to evidence, a legal challenge to sufficiency of prosecution evidence.
De Lima, through her lawyer Teddy Rigoroso, also moved for the reconsideration of the court’s denial of their Motion for Bail “on the grounds that the evidence of guilt is not strong.”
The detained senator last week was acquitted in one of the three drug cases she has been facing since February 2017. Judge Liezel Aquiatan, however, dismissed their demurrer and bail bid in a Joint Omnibus motion and ordered the trial to proceed.
But De Lima’s team said the court had committed “errors and oversight” when it junked their bid.
“This Motion for Reconsideration, therefore, is being submitted in order to give the Honorable Court the opportunity, not just to revisit the Omnibus Order or the merits of the Motions filed by Accused De Lima (one of which was even erroneously referenced as a ‘Petition for Bail and not even referenced even once), but also the entire records of the case,” the motion read.
De Lima’s legal team noted that 60% of the order was devoted to summarizing the prosecution’s narrative while their motion for bail and demurrer were reduced to just half a page of enumeration.
They said only six paragraphs in the eight pages of their 83-paged demurrer was referenced, while not one reference was made to their earlier filed motion for bail, even though this was cited heavily in the later filed bid to dismiss the case.
“This conspicuous absence, in addition to the fact that its very title was wrongly cited as ‘Petition for Bail’ in the third line of the Omnibus Order, gives rise to doubts that it was even seen before, much less considered at all, in the drafting of the Omnibus Order,” they said.
“In fact, with how often the Exhibits for the Prosecution were cited (corresponding to averments made in the Sworn Statements of witnesses), instead of the witnesses’ actual testimony on the stand, especially the cross-examination by counsels for the two Accused, a reader would be led to believe that this was an Order resolving a Motion that was filed before the witnesses were ever presented and made to testify, and without their competence and credibility being tested in open court,” De Lima added.
The court, the Omnibus Order, said that following the prosecution witnesses’ testimonies, “it is clear that the money were collected as contributions to the fund raising of accused De Lima for her campaign as senator.”
It added that De Lima and her co-accused Ronnie Dayan, her former aide, must explain the P10 million they received, why the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group were excluded from Oplan Galugad, and why illegal drug trading continued even after the raid.
"These facts, if unrebutted, the same is prima facie sufficient to support a verdict of guilt against the accused," the court added.
In a bid to reverse this, De Lima’s lawyers noted that the testimony of Gen. Benjamin Magalong, former chief of the CIDG, pertains to events that happened in 2014, when he assumed the post, which was two years after the events relevant to the case.
De Lima also said Magalong’s testimony centered on then-Bureau of Corrections Officer-in-Charge Rafael Ragos, as the police general noted that information that the latter was accused of receiving payolas from high-profile inmates inside the New Bilibid Prison.
Ragos was earlier tagged as accused in the case, but the prosecution moved to drop him after he executed a supplemental affidavit detailing sources of money he supposedly delivered to De Lima, then justice chief, in 2012.
De Lima’s lawyer said that Ragos’ original affidavit never mentioned delivery of money to De Lima who is accused of alleged receiving P5 million on Nov. 24, 2012 and another P5 million on Dec. 15, 2012, from Bilibid inmates involved in illegal drug trading. The money was said to be received by Ragos and later handed to Dayan.
“To recall, this allegation only cropped up after Ragos was detained and prior to the amendment of the Original Information, which resulted in his removal as an accused in this case,” the motion read.
De Lima’s lawyer pointed out that Ragos had “progressive clearer details” as he kept remembering and adding while allegations progressed from the congressional hearing to criminal charge. “[I]t is apparent that he has been progressively tailor-fitting his testimony in order to obtain the most beneficial terms in his favor,” the motion further read.
They then moved that the court reconsider the denial of their bid “and, in so doing, redeem the integrity of the proceedings.”
De Lima’s team is set to present defense evidence on March 5, 2021.
Meanwhile, the senator is set to attend the hearing on her third drug case, pending before the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 265 later Tuesday.
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: February 17, 2021 - 6:53pm
Sen. Leila de Lima on Saturday marked the first year of her detention at the Philippine National Police detention center in Quezon City.
Ahead of the anniversary of her arrest, the Senate minority and various rights groups called on the Philippine government to release her immediately.
The Department of Justice initially charged De Lima for drug trading, but over the months, the state prosecutors filed motions to amend the charges and indict the senator on conspiracy to commit drug trading instead.
De Lima is known as one of the most outspoken critics of President Rodrigio Duterte's administration.
February 17, 2021 - 6:53pm
Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima says she's elated after being acquitted in one of the drug charges she is facing.
"To be acquitted even in just one case, in the time of Duterte, is a victory," the opposition says in a statement Wednesday.
"Na-deny man ang ating Demurrer to Evidence at Motion for Bail sa Criminal Case No. 17-165, naniniwala ako at ang aking mga abogado na mahina ang ebidensya ng gobyerno dito para patunayan ang mga gawa-gawa nilang paratang," she adds.
August 14, 2020 - 11:53am
Sen. Leila de Lima files a motion for bail for the drug case against her and Ronnie Dayan before a Muntinlupa court. The detained senator argues that evidence presented by the prosecution was not strong.
"Without prejudice to her prior arguments questioning the validity of the Amended Information, Accused De Lima respectfully submits that she is entitled to bail as a matter of right, and thus moves for bail ad cautelam," the motion read.
July 24, 2020 - 12:58pm
Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima questions the sudden death of Bilibid inmate Jaybee Sebastian from the coronavirus disease.
"Sebastian’s death means one less perjured witness against me, but it also means one less witness against Duterte, Vitaliano Aguirre, Jose Calida, Persida Acosta, Sandra Cam, Ferdinand Topacio, certain retired police generals, and all those who conspired to line-up all these Bilibid inmates to manufacture stories of drug-dealing to implicate me and send me to prison," the senator says.
July 7, 2020 - 2:23pm
Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima files a measure seeking to provide free immunizations for senior citizens who are all susceptible to viruses.
“No less than the Constitution guarantees that the needs of the elderly in relation to their right to health shall be given priority by the State. Clearly, senior citizens belong to a special class of individuals for which the Constitution affords preferential concern,” De Lima says.
“Their growing number coupled with their susceptibilities has now made it vital for the State to make the promotion and protection of their health and well-being among its priority social legislations,” she adds.
June 27, 2020 - 2:19pm
Opposition Sen. Leila de Lima slams the move to change the name of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas.
"Ano na namang kabalbalan ito?" the senator asks.
"The lawmakers pushing for it has a distorted sense of nationalism, if at all. Such a proposal is devoid of any salutary objective. It’s plain and simple politics. And stupidity," De Lima adds.