De Lima attends prelim conference on drug case at Muntinlupa RTC
Detained Senator Leila de Lima attended a preliminary conference at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Monday, where she is facing a charge of conspiracy to commit drug trading, even as her co-accused, Jose Adrian Dera, remained at large.
The conference, where both sides presented their list of witnesses and evidence, was set after De Lima was finally arraigned on August 10 and refused to enter a plea before Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205 Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz, who entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.
One of De Lima’s lawyers, Boni Tacardon, told reporters after the hearing on Monday that the prosecution still had not bared any “relevant” evidence that would prove De Lima had used Dera to procure campaign cash and cars from convicted drug lord Peter Co.
“The prosecution said De Lima asked for four vehicles, and we were expecting them to produce evidence that would prove the cars’ existence,” Tacardon said. “But the only evidence they showed was testimony from the witnesses.”
These witnesses included convicted drug lords and high-profile New Bilibid Prison inmates Co, Hans Anton Tan, and Jaybee Sebastian.
The case De Lima is facing at the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205, which stemmed from a complaint filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, alleges that the former Justice chief conspired with Dera to trade illegal drugs inside the national penitentiary.
“There is no relation, by affinity, consanguinity, or even professional relationship [between De Lima and Dera],” said Tacardon, who added that Dera had said this himself in his affidavit.
The prosecution had alleged that De Lima used Dera to solicit millions from the convicted drug lords for her 2016 campaign for the Senate.
The opposition senator was escorted out of the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice by a truckload of security personnel after the preliminary conference on Monday, where her camp also presented a list of 21 witnesses.
De Lima’s next pretrial hearing for the case was set on September 28. /kga
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