De Lima claims ‘moral victory’ in her acquittal in drug case under Duterte admin
MANILA, Philippines — “To be acquitted even in just one case, in the time of Duterte, is a moral victory,” detained Sen. Leila de Lima said of her acquittal in one of the three drug cases filed against her.
“We’re happy about my being absolved and the court’s dropping my case, Criminal Case No. 17-166,” De Lima said in Filipino in a statement, which was read by her legal counsel Boni Tacardon in a press conference Wednesday.
[Original statement: “Ikinalulugod po natin ang pag-abswelto sa akin at pagbasura ng Korte sa aking kaso sa Criminal Case No. 17-166.”]
De Lima is facing two cases of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading before Branch 205 of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court. The senator has filed a demurrer to evidence in both cases.
The court dismissed one case, where her nephew Jose Adrian Draw, was her co-accused.
In junking the case, Judge Liezel Aquiatan said in her 41-page order that the prosecution “failed to elicit strong evidence to sustain a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt on the part” of the senator.
A demurrer to evidence is in effect a motion to dismiss filed by the accused after the prosecution has finished its presentation of evidence. The demurrer is anchored on the ground that the evidence presented by the prosecution is insufficient.
The Muntinlupa court, however, denied De Lima’s demurrer to evidence in her other case, Criminal Case No. 17-165, where her co-accused is former aide Ronnie Dayan. The court also denied the senator’s bid to post bail.
But the opposition senator remains hopeful, saying she and her lawyers believe that the evidence of government prosecutors is “weak.”
“The case against me is conspiracy to engage in illegal drug trading. But as it turned out in the hearing, there’s no evidence of an agreement. There was not a single witness who proved that I and my co-accused conspired with drug lords to sell illegal drugs at the Bilibid [the New Bilibid Prison],” De Lima said.
[Original statement: “Ang kaso laban sa akin ay conspiracy to engage in illegal drug trading. Pero ang lumabas sa mga pagdinig, walang ebidensya ng kasunduan. Walang kahit isang testigo na nagpatunay na ako at ang aking kapwa akusado ay nakipagsabwatan sa mga drug lords para maglako o magbenta ng ilegal na droga sa Bilibid.“]
“In fact, even the witnesses of the prosecution, particularly the one they are calling drug lords, denied being drug lords. They themselves said in court that they were not drug lords.
[Original statement: “Sa katunayan, kahit isang testigo ng Prosecution, lalo na yung mga sinasabi nilang drug lord, itinatanggi nila ang pagiging drug lord. Sila mismo ang nagsabi sa Korte na hindi sila drug lord.”]
According to De Lima, she and her lawyers will study the court ruling on Criminal Case No. 165 and will file a motion for reconsideration.
“Let me repeat: This fight is not only my personal fight but a fight of the people. Right from the start, these cases were being used as a way to silence me and disrupt my service to the country as a senator, the fight against the lack of justice, and the promotion of the right of our countrymen, especially the poor, to live honorably and with dignity,” she said.
[Original statement: “Uulitin ko: Ang labang ito ay hindi lang personal kong laban, kundi laban ng sambayanan. Mula’t sapul, ang mga kasong ito ay ginagamit lamang na paraan para patahimikin ako at gambalain ang aking paglilingkod sa bayan bilang Senador, sa paglaban sa kawalang hustisya at pagtataguyod ng karapatang mamuhay nang marangal at may dignidad ng ating mga kababayan, lalo na ang maralita.”]
“Nevertheless, since then and up to now and in the days to come, I did not allow and will not allow this tactic to win,” she added.
[Original statement: “Subalit mula noon hanggang ngayon at sa darating pang mga araw, hindi ko hinayaan at hahayaang magtagumpay ang ganitong taktika.”]
She said she would continue to fulfill her duties as a senator and file bills to support her advocacy of human rights and democracy.
“I remain strong: I hope you keep praying for me. Let’s keep praying that justice will prevail,” she went on.
[Original statement: “Nananatili akong matatag: Patuloy sana ninyo akong ipagdasal. Patuloy tayong manalangin na mangibabaw ang hustisya.”]
“To jail one innocent person — whoever they may be — is an insult to every Filipino who deserves a better government, and an assault on the future of our country,” she added.
The senator will be marking her fourth year in detention on Feb. 24.
De Lima is facing another drug case before Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256. In this case, she has five other co-accused. Here, the prosecution is still presenting evidence for the senator’s motion for bail.
— With a report from Tetch Torres-Tupas
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