Gov’t prosecutors file contempt raps vs De Lima, lawyers
MANILA, Philippines — Government prosecutors on Friday have asked the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) to cite Senator Leila De Lima and her lawyers in contempt of court for allegedly making “inaccurate claims” before the media about testimonies of witnesses in one of the trials for her illegal drug trade case.
In a 39-page petition, the prosecutors led by Provincial Prosecutor Ramoncito Ocampo accused De Lima and her lawyer of “intentional and malicious misinformation” to the media that tends to convey to the public that prosecution’s witnesses have already cleared De Lima from illegal drug trading, “which is not true, as the prosecution presented to the Court evidence to the contrary.”
Government prosecutors said they were prompted to file the complaint after news reports came out quoting De Lima’s counsel Atty. Filibon Tacardon saying that witnesses from the Anti-Money Laundering Council and PDEA testified that there is no evidence linking the senator to illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prisons.
“As improperly insinuated by Atty. Tacardon, it is not true that prosecution witnesses ‘reaffirmed’ that the accused was not involved in any suspicious transaction that would link accused De Lima to the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison. It is also not true that the said witnesses found no suspicious transactions between the senator and drug convicts,” the petition said.
“In fact, the prosecution presented to the Court evidence to the contrary as clearly pointed out in the judicial affidavit of Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Darwin Canete,” it added.
The DOJ also cited the statement made by De Lima’s lawyer that supposedly twisted the testimony of prosecution witness Vicente Sy that allegedly tended to convey to the public that “the panel’s witnesses, Atty. Rigel Salvador, PDL Vicente Sy and Mr. Dennis Alfonso have already cleared respondent De Lima from illegal drug trading, which is not true as the prosecution presented evidence to the contrary.”
The prosecutors said Tacardon’s misinformation, which has expressed imprimatur from accused De Lima, constituted a violation of the sub judice rule, which restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to judicial proceedings to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice.
The prosecutors lamented that the statements made by De Lima and Tacardon are malicious and deliberate as De Lima’s petition for bail will be submitted for resolution as the prosecution terminates its presentation of evidence on November 13.
“Their press statements and pronouncements in different media platforms have the power to persuade, influence, intimidate, incite the perception and sentiments of their colleagues and other government officials, including the trial court judges,” they said.
Information also circulated that the senator’s counsels were reprimanded by the court during today’s trial. But the De Lima camp, in a statement said “the defense panel does not engage in fake news.”
The senator’s camp said “it vehemently denies the information now spreading that the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 reprimanded the defense team of Sen. Leila De Lima, for allegedly ‘twisting acts or inaccurate claims before media,’ at the hearing earlier today. Nothing of that sort happened this morning.”
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