De Lima disappointed by Guevarra’s statement
A day before marking her fourth year in detention on drug charges, Sen. Leila de Lima on Tuesday expressed disappointment in Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra who earlier said that that despite her acquittal in one of the three cases against her, the senator’s conviction was “inevitable.”
“If he is so confident about the inevitability of my conviction, then why does this government have to keep up the pressure on the judiciary just to convict me?” De Lima said in a handwritten dispatch from her cell at the Philippine National Police custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
“Maybe that is why he is so confident. He is so confident in Duterte’s hold on the judicial system he seems to foreclose the possibility that the judicial system will somehow correct itself and soon refuse to be manipulated by a tyrant,” she added.
De Lima—a prominent opposition figure—was acquitted last week in one of the three cases filed against her by the Duterte administration over her alleged involvement in a conspiracy to promote the drug trade at New Bilibid Prison during her term as justice secretary.
In a 41-page omnibus order, Judge Liezel Aquiatan of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 205 granted De Lima’s demurrer to evidence in Criminal Case No. (CCN) 17-166, which her lawyers had described as the weakest of the three cases against her.
But the judge denied the senator’s demurrer and bail plea in another case, CCN 17-165, involving De Lima and her former aide Ronnie Dayan, and ordered the trial to proceed.
Guevarra had commented that by doing so, “the trial court concluded that, unless rebutted, the prosecution’s evidence is sufficient to convict the accused. In denying the senator’s petition for bail, the trial court found that the evidence against the accused is strong.”
“I hate to say this, but I am very disappointed in Secretary Guevarra,” De Lima wrote.
A global rights watchdog, meanwhile, called on the Philippine government to release De Lima, who marks her fourth year in detention on Wednesday, over what it said were politically motivated, trumped-up drug charges.
Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch Asia-Pacific deputy director, said De Lima’s “unjust detention … has had an effect not just of depriving her liberty but of intimidating [President] Duterte’s critics.” INQ
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