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Defensor to drop perjury rap against Lozada

By Tina Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:22:00 05/29/2009

Filed Under: Crime and Law and Justice, Politics, NBN deal

MANILA, Philippines?Judge Jorge Emmanuel Lorredo was so elated that Michael ?Mike? Defensor was a no-show at a pretrial hearing Thursday that he asked the people in his courtroom to say a thanksgiving prayer.

Charging that he is unlikely to get a fair judgment, Defensor, former chief of staff of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, expressed his intention to withdraw the perjury case he had filed against whistle-blower Rodolfo ?Jun? Lozada Jr.

Defensor filed a perjury case against Lozada for claiming that Defensor had forced him to lie about being kidnapped upon his arrival at the Manila airport from Hong Kong in February 2008 to prevent him from testifying at a Senate hearing on the aborted $329-million NBN-ZTE deal.

?I am no longer interested in pursuing the case,? Defensor said in a letter to the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court judge.

?While I am very much determined to seek relief for the criminal acts committed by Mr. Jun Lozada that caused serious injury upon my person, I feel that I may not be able to obtain impartial justice,? he said.

?Bias? for accused

He said that a ?cursory reading of the orders? issued by the court would show Lorredo?s ?bias in favor of the accused.?

Defensor said he would not be able to attend hearings while his lawyers prepare to withdraw his complaint against Lozada.

He lamented that his perjury complaint was being misconstrued as a harassment suit just because of his ?presumed close relationship? with Ms Arroyo.

?It is a plain, meritorious and legitimate action seeking relief for the wrong done upon me and my family,? he said.

Lorredo said that since he could not dismiss the case merely on the basis of a letter, he set the trial proper for June 11.

Personal confirmation

The judge hoped that Defensor would attend the hearing so he could personally confirm his intention not to pursue the case.

?Until he confirms that he is indeed withdrawing the complaint, there is always the possibility that the case would continue or be revived. It?s like a Damocles sword is always hanging over Lozada?s head,? he said.

Lozada regarded the withdrawal of the case as a ?victory of the people.?

However, Lozada?s lawyers are not satisfied with Defensor?s letter, which one of them even described as ?very ambiguous? and ?doublespeak.?

?This case is not yet considered closed just because he sent a letter signifying his intention to withdraw the complaint. He should formally withdraw it under oath,? one lawyer said.

?Let us pray?

Lorredo earlier issued an order asking Defensor and Lozada to amicably settle the case.

Upon receiving Defensor?s letter, Lorredo asked those in the courtroom to say a thanksgiving prayer, saying Defensor seemed to have listened to his appeal to withdraw the perjury case against Lozada.

?Let us pray for Jun Lozada, his family and the father of Mike Defensor who advised him to withdraw the complaint,? the judge said.

Lorredo earlier said that the Palace was trying to pressure him to inhibit himself from the perjury case. He, however, refused to name the supposed Malacańang emissary.

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