DOJ amends drug charge vs De Lima again
Senator Leila de Lima still failed to enter her plea before a Muntinlupa court after Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors moved to amend the third of the three drug charges filed against her.
The arraignment of De Lima and her co-accused at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206 was deferred on Friday after the prosecution filed a motion to admit amended information on Thursday.
Just like in Muntinlupa RTC Branches 204 and 205, the DOJ changed the complaint against De Lima and others from drug trading to conspiracy to commit drug trading.
Branches 204 and 206 of the Muntinlupa RTC also re-scheduled De Lima’s arraignment to 2018.
At the court room, De Lima greeted and tapped on the shoulder her fellow respondents: former bodyguard and lover Ronnie Dayan; former aide Joenel Sanchez; and Franklin Bucayu, the former director general of the Bureau of Corrections during her years as secretary of justice.
Absent were her alleged former aides Wilfredo Elli and Jose Adrian Dera, and convicted drug lord Jaybee Sebastian. The high-profile inmate has a separate arraignment inside Bilibid this December 12.
Filibon Tacardon, De Lima’s lawyer, said the DOJ’s tactic was “to avoid the fatal defect on their original information, which is the absence of the actual drugs allegedly traded.”
De Lima’s camp said that based on decisions of the Supreme Court, actual evidence of drugs, or corpus delicti, was made as an element of drug trading; and that absence of which will render reasonable doubt, leading to the dismissal of the case.
Tacardon said the prosecution’s motion “will cause further delay” in her three cases.
De Lima’s case has been stalled in the arraignment stage, 10 months after she was ordered arrested in February.
Assistant Prosecutor Ramoncito Ocampo, however, explained that the reason for amending the charges was to make the cases “more precise.”
“We will not in any way prejudice the rights of the accused,” Ocampo said, noting that amending the information was allowed as long as the respondents have not entered their pleas yet. /kga
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