MANILA – Prosecutors have asked a Muntinlupa court to cite jailed Senator Leila de Lima and her lawyer Boni Tacardon contemptuously for testifying the lawyer to the media about the lawmaker’s drug cases.
Prosecutors, led by Bataan Provincial Prosecutor Ramoncito Ocampo, filed a motion on Friday for indirect contempt for the illegal drug charges, while the second relates to his testimony that a drug lord on the witness stand admitted that he never made the jailed senator has met.
Prosecutors said these statements violated the sub-judice rule, which prohibits parties from publicly discussing the merits of a pending case in order to avoid influencing the outcome of the case.
“[R]The willful and malicious misinformation of the respondents to the media and the eventual publication of the same not only constitute inappropriate behavior that can hinder, hinder and / or impair the administration of justice, but also threaten the constitutional right of the people to a fair trial ”, says it in the petition.
“It is evident that the statements were made on purpose to arouse public opinion against our judicial system and to pressure and influence the Court of Justice to rule the petition on bail in favor of the interviewed Sen. De Lima,” he added added.
They named 5 reporters they want to present on the stand.
The Senator was among the prosecutors for authorizing the disclosure of the information to the media based on a statement defending the information provided by her lawyers as “factual”.
“As a client, I have authorized my lawyers to disclose public material and important details from witness statements and other case developments during hearings and other case developments in the interests of truth and transparency,” said De Lima in mid-November.
The indirect contempt complaint – a separate case from the drug cases – came weeks after Attorney General Benedicto Malcontento and Justice Minister Menardo Guevarra warned that they were citing the De Lima camp in disregard of the court because their statements allegedly tend to despise the case .
When asked whose idea it was to file the contempt charge, the city’s deputy prosecutor, Darwin Cañete, quoted a pro-Duterte blogger who shared De Lima’s attorney’s testimony on all social media.
“We’re all part of social media. Somebody pointed out to me, my friend Mark Lopez, that there was this series of statements to the media allegedly from defense attorney Atty. Tacardon, and finally there was a statement from the accused Senator De Lima that the statements were with her approval. We found these statements contemptuous and prompted us to file this case, ”Cañete told reporters shortly after the petition was submitted.
Cañete, also a supporter of Duterte, first became controversial because he wanted to “kill yellow” on social media and that Kian de los Santos, the 11th grade student, was killed in a police operation in Caloocan City in 2017 , couldn’t be so innocent.
Ocampo had previously defended Cañete’s law enforcement agency because of his “competence”.
DRUG CASE STATUS
De Lima faces three drug charges allegedly trafficking drugs at New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to supposedly fund her Senate offer.
She denied the allegations, claiming that the witnesses against her were trained and that the evidence was fabricated. She had previously barred 13 convicts from testifying against her, but her plea was denied.
The prosecution has so far completed the presentation of witnesses in the first two cases. Prosecutors stopped taking evidence in the second case on Friday morning after failing to produce a witness because they couldn’t find her.
This was the third time prosecutors failed to present Sally Serrano, allegedly a niece of convicted drug lord Peter Co, according to De Lima’s defense team.
Ocampo said they wanted to fly to China to track down Serrano but couldn’t because of the pandemic.
He said they would later find out that she was already in an unknown location in Aklan.
“During the last hearing that Prosecutor Cañete attended, the court already warned the prosecution and lawyers, but despite my request to give me another chance, I undertake in court to personally fly to Aklan as the head of the panel, to get the whereabouts, but it was refused, ”he said.
Instead, Judge Leizel Aquiatan of Division 205 of the Muntinlupa District Court asked prosecutors to submit their formal offer of evidence within five days, effectively ending their chances of producing additional evidence. De Limas Camp also has 5 days to leave comments.
The defense will produce their own evidence in the first two cases on Jan. 15.
Prosecution evidence in the third case is ongoing.
Prosecutors have refused to respond to details on the pending cases, including the need to provide affidavits from dead witness Jaybee Sebastian, who died of COVID-19 6 days after completing his last affidavit in July.
They included these affidavits in their evidence, despite objections from De Lima’s camp that they had no way of verifying his claims.
Prosecutor Ocampo confirmed Sebastian was already at Site Harry, the NBP’s isolation facility for COVID-19 patients, when he made his final affidavit.
ABS-CBN News previously reported that Sebastian’s new affidavit contained additional allegations against De Lima.
The prosecutors refused to comment on the meaning of Sebastian and Serrano’s statements because they were unable to testify under the sub-judice rule.
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