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Immediate release of de Lima pushed

Florin Hilbay

Florin Hilbay. EDWIN BACASMAS

Sen. Leila de Lima’s legal counsel and former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay has called for the immediate release of the detained senator as they filed on Friday afternoon a motion for reconsideration urging the Supreme Court  to dismiss the drug charges brought against President Duterte’s fiercest critic.

In a press conference in Manila, Hilbay said it was unfair for De Lima to continue to be held in detention when “even the majority of the members of the Supreme Court cannot agree on the nature of the charges filed against her.”

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On Oct. 10, the high court voted 9-6 to reject De Lima’s motion to quash her indictment for drug trafficking in three cases brought against her by the Department of Justice in February.

The charges allege that De Lima, during her stint as justice secretary under the Aquino administration, had conspired with high-profile inmates to perpetuate illegal drug trading in the New Bilibid Prison.

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The decision also upheld the authority of Presiding Judge Juanita Guerrero of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 to try De Lima.

Void, vague

Of the nine justices who voted to dismiss De Lima’s petition, Hilbay said, five believed that the charge filed against her was illegal drug trading, while three said it was conspiracy to commit drug trading.

“What does that mean? It means that the information is void, vague, and therefore they do not have enough votes to sustain the validity of the information,” he added.

He added that the decision was a “judicial confirmation that the charges are, in the language of Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, ‘fake.’”

By the standards set by the decision, Hilbay said, the high court cannot claim to have a valid reason to continue detaining the senator and must therefore be released immediately.

“It’s unfair for a person, whether it’s De Lima or an ordinary citizen, to be held for 233 days on charges that nobody understands, not even the members of the Supreme Court,” he said.

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“It’s so fundamentally unfair that the only conclusion we can gather here is that the charges are fake,” he added.

Hilbay, however, expressed confidence that De Lima would be acquitted by virtue also of the Supreme Court ruling.

If the high court could not even agree on the charges filed against De Lima, then it followed that Guerrero could not have had probable cause to issue a warrant of arrest, he said.

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TAGS: Philippine news updates, Sen. Leila de Lima, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay
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