De Lima lawyers may be cited for contempt

Published November 11, 2020, 7:33 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

No witnesses have recanted their testimonies against Senator Leila de Lima, Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento declared on Wednesday, Nov. 11.

“Walang nangyaring recantation (There have been no recantations),” Malcontento said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay with Marichu Villanueva.

Malcontento responded to statements made by de Lima’s legal counsels that an inmate at the New Bilibid (NBP) has recently recanted before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) his testimony against the lawmaker.

De Lima is facing three drug charges before the Muntinlupa City RTC over her alleged involved in the narcotics trade in the NBP and used narcotics money during her senatorial campaign in the 2016 polls.

“Kami ay magpa-file ng petition for contempt kasi yung ginawa ng lawyers ni Senator de Lima is contemptuous (We will seek to cite her lawyers for contempt because what they did is contemptuous),” he said.

Malcontento said government prosecutors handling the case are expected to file this pleading by next week.

The prosecutor general pointed out what the senator’s lawyers did is in violation of the subjudice rule in court cases.

“You are not supposed to discuss the merits of the case outside of the courts. Bawal po yan (It is prohbited),” Malcontento explained about the subjudice rule.

Malcontento said her lawyers only released to the media snippets of the testimony.

“It’s not fair to our judicial system. We will not engage in that. We will file our petition for contempt and allow the court to decide on that,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra admitted giving instructions to Malcontento and prosecutors handling the de Lima case to keep the discussions in the court room.

“I asked the prosecutors to keep the battle inside the courtroom and to consider the filing of petitions to cite for contempt certain persons who knowingly make comments or render opinions on the probative value of evidence being presented in court, with a clear intent to influence the judge’s appreciation of the evidence,” the secretary said.