De Lima disappointed over inhibition of another judge in final drug case, chides prosecution
MANILA, Philippines — Detained former Senator Leila de Lima on Friday expressed disappointment over the voluntary inhibition of the second judge who was supposed to preside over her last drug case.
De Lima also chided the prosecutors who asked Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 Presiding Judge Abraham Joseph Alcantara to inhibit from her case, simply because he was the same judge who acquitted her in a “near-identical case” on May 14.
“While I respect the decision of Judge Abraham Joseph B. Alcantara recusing himself from my third and last remaining drug case, I am truly disappointed at the Prosecution’s move in seeking for such inhibition,” said De Lima in a letter.
“If they are truly agents of justice, the Panel of Prosecutors should have proceeded to entrust the appreciation of their evidence through the crucible of a judge whose independence, impartiality, and courage to do the right thing have already been proven in the past, i.e., in my second case,” de Lima added.
De Lima pointed out that Alcantara’s acquittal verdict was “definitely above board, consistent with law, evidence and reason,” while the Department of Justice panel of prosecutors’ ground for inhibition is “nothing even remotely close” to the motion for inhibition raised against Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 256 Presiding Judge Romeo Buenaventura.
Buenaventura — the first judge on her case — inhibited himself after separate motions from De Lima’s co-accused Joenel Sanchez, Franklin Bucayu, and Ronnie Dayan pointed out his relationship with the legal counsel of former Oriental Mindoro representative Reynaldo Umali, who allegedly coerced Dayan into testifying against de Lima during the 2016 congressional inquiries into the illegal drug trading in New Bilibid Prison.
De Lima has been detained since February 24, 2017, months after launching a Senate inquiry into President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs.
So far, De Lima has won two of the drug cases filed against her.