Leila de Lima drug case: Muntinlupa court ordered to expedite trial
MANILA, Philippines–The Office of the Court Administrator (OCAD) has ordered the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 256 to decide the illegal drugs case against former senator Leila de Lima within nine months as it has been pending for six years.
De Lima has been accused of conspiring with inmates from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in the illegal drug trade operation of which proceeds could fund her senatorial bid in 2016.
Her co-accused include former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Jesus Bucayu, Bucayu’s former staff, Wilfredo Elli, inmate Jaybee Sebastian, Ronnie Dayan, de Lima’s former security aide, Joenel Sanchez; and Jad Dera.
Originally, three illegal drug trading cases were filed against the former senator. She was already acquitted in the two other cases.
In this case, they are already on the stage of presentation of evidence by the prosecution, of which a hearing is set on June 19.
But with the April 28 memorandum from Court Administrator Raul Villanueva, the court is directed to prioritize and decide the case within nine months and to update the OCAD as soon as the case has been disposed of.
The OCAD memorandum cited OCA Circular No. 83-2023 as the basis of its order. The circular reminds lower courts of the need for a speedy hearing or trial, taking into consideration the circumstances of witnesses under the government’s care.
With the OCAD order, the Muntinlupa Court gave the prosecution up to June 26 to complete and terminate its presentation of evidence.
Under Presidential Decree 828, the OCAD has the mandate of assisting the Supreme Court in its administrative supervision over all courts in the country, over 2,000 judges, and over 20,000 court personnel.