De Lima hits DOJ contempt bid vs her, lawyer: ‘It is to hide trial from public’
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday accused the Department of Justice (DOJ) of wanting “to deny transparency to the conduct of the trial” on her drug case.
This after the DOJ asked a Muntinlupa City court to cite the detained lawmaker and her lawyer in contempt for making public certain developments about her indictment.
“There is only one reason why a government and its prosecution arm, in this case, the DOJ, would want our camp barred from sharing with the public the trial developments, particularly the material points or truths extracted from my lawyers’ cross-examination of prosecution witnesses,” De Lima said in a dispatch from Camp Crame in Quezon City.
“It is to hide the trial from the public. It is to deny transparency to the conduct of the trial. It is to hide from the world the fabrication and manufacturing of evidence and testimony used to convict the innocent. It is to make a kangaroo court out of the judiciary,” she added.
Government prosecutors recently asked the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) to cite De Lima and her legal counsel in contempt for allegedly making “inaccurate claims” before the media about testimonies of prosecution witnesses.
“Don’t I have the right to now debunk those lies using the court testimonies of witnesses, and Duterte’s own witnesses at that? Don’t I have the right to assert my innocence before the very same forum—the public arena—where Duterte and his minions relentlessly attack my honor and integrity?” De Lima, however, said.
She claimed that it is of “public knowledge” that before the trial of her cases began, President Rodrigo Duterte “has been spewing lies about my alleged drug links and has openly and repeatedly prejudged my guilt.”
“Lies in an unparalleled smear campaign were enabled by Duterte’s propagandists, social media operators, trolls and sycophants in Congress,” she added.
She also asserted her constitutional right to an “open and public trial.”
The senator, a former justice secretary, further argued that an “open and public trial” not only serves as an assurance of the accused but also of the judiciary “that justice is dispensed fairly and squarely by our courts of law.”
“It is the assurance of our judicial system that the courts will be looked upon by the people as models of impartiality and wisdom, and not as a strongman’s kangaroo courts,” De Lima said.
“Which is precisely why the DOJ wants to silence me and my lawyers in these cases. Because they know they are conducting a witch hunt, and a trial by burning at the stake,” she added.
De Lima, one of the staunchest critics of the Duterte administration, has been in detention since February 2017 over what she has repeatedly called “trumped-up” drug charges against her.
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