VACC lawyer seeks indirect contempt ruling for De Lima, Hontiveros and Lagman
MANILA, Philippines — A lawyer from the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) has asked the Muntinlupa court to cite for indirect contempt former senator Leila de Lima, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and Rep. Edcel Lagman, for embarrassing the wisdom of the court.
Atty. Ferdinand Topacio also asked the court to cite for indirect contempt lawyers Filibon Tacardon and Dino de Leon and Cristina Palabay of Karapatan and Bayan’s Renato Reyes.
He said the media statements made by de Lima and the others violate the “sub judice” rule that prohibits comments and disclosures about judicial proceedings to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice.
“Specifically assailed in this Petition are the contemptuous conduct of respondents in making public comments regarding the case of Atty. Leila de Lima, which tends to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice,” read the petition.
The statements, he said, “clearly tend to bring the court into disrepute or disrespect simply because a ruling was made contrary to what they want.”
De Lima has one more illegal drug trading case pending case before the Muntinlupa Court after she was acquitted for the two other cases.
But the case is up for raffle after Judge Romeo Buenaventura inhibited from handling the case.
In a verified Facebook page, Topacio mentioned de Lima’s “Dispatch from Crame No. 1301” in which he said the former senator “directly incited the public to question the wisdom of the Honorable Court’s decision” in denying her bail petition.
“This action from respondent de Lima is unnecessary as she knows that the Court, despite the presence of inconsistencies, found credibility on the inmate’s testimonies as stated in its decision,” read the petition.
As a lawyer, Topacio said de Lima is expected to respect the court’s decision.
As for Tacardo and de Leon, Topacio said both lawyers publicly discussed the case’s merits.
“Sadly, they appear to have completely forgotten such rule [the subjudice rule],” he said.
As for the other respondents, they issued statements against the court’s denial of de Lima’s petition for bail.
“Thus, it can be inferred that there is no other reason for the respondents to make these public statements in the media but to simply embarrass the wisdom of the Honorable Court just because they did not get the result they wanted,” the petition stated.
If found guilty of indirect contempt, under Section 7 of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, “he may be punished by a fine not exceeding thirty thousand pesos, imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months, or both. ”