De Lima appeals after Muntinlupa court junks motion to dismiss case

Published February 23, 2021, 11:51 AM

by Jonathan Hicap

Detained Senator Leila de Lima filed a motion for reconsideration after a Muntinlupa court junked her demurrer to evidence, a motion seeking to dismiss one of her three drug cases.

Sen. Leila de Lima at the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice
(Jonathan Hicap / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a decision last Feb. 17, the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 denied the demurrers to evidence filed by De Lima and co-accused, Ronnie Dayan, in case 17-165, which accuses the two of conspiring to commit illegal drug trading when she was still the justice secretary.

The two are accused of receiving P10 million from New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmates in November and December 2012.

“Taking into consideration the pieces of evidence of the prosecution collectively perused and analyzed, the Court is convinced that the evidence of guilt is strong,” the court ruled. It also junked De Lima and Dayan’s petitions for bail.

In her appeal filed on Feb. 22, De Lima said, “Sampling Bias, cherry picking, suppressing evidence, or the fallacy of incomplete evidence is the act of pointing to individual data that seem to confirm a particular position while ignoring a significant portion of data that may contradict that position.”

“At the outset, attention is drawn to the fact that the Honorable Court’s Omnibus Order merely quoted portions of the record that supported the narrative that the Prosecution attempted to weave, devoting pages 2 to 22 (or 60%) of the 35 pages of the Omnibus Order to summarizing the Prosecution’s narrative without ever addressing or citing the information elicited during the witnesses’ testimonies that contradicted such narrative,” the motion read.

It added, “In contrast, it reduced the Accused De Lima’s 140-page Motion for Bail and 83-page Demurrer to Evidence, both of which meticulously and specifically cited portions of the record that contradicted the Prosecution’s narrative, to half a page of enumeration (or a measly 1.4% of the discussion of facts in the Omnibus Order) that made it appear that the objections were general or motherhood statements.”

The appeal stated that the court’s decision “created an unfair impression that the witnesses all testified to a seamless and wholly credible narration of Accused De Lima’s guilt when, in fact, the Prosecution’s own witnesses undermined the Prosecution’s own case.”

During the trial, former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, accompanied by Jovencio Ablen of the National Bureau of Investigation, claimed he delivered P10 million to De Lima’s house in Parañaque: P5 million on Nov. 24, 2012, and another P5 million on Dec. 15, 2012.

“Ragos’s testimony was purportedly presented to prove not only the alleged delivery to Accused De Lima, a fabricated story, but also her alleged knowledge of the contents, source and purpose of the alleged deliveries, and her alleged acquiescence and active involvement in a conspiracy to engage in illegal drug trading. Again, we firmly and categorically state that those alleged deliveries did not take place, a pure concoction by both Ragos,” according to the motion for reconsideration.

The appeal stated, “More importantly, it is strongly urged to bring justice to everyone involved, including to the Honorable Court itself, by correcting such a clearly lopsided and logically challenged ruling, which is riddled with various violations of the safeguards set forth in both the Constitution and the Rules of Evidence.

“When the Prosecution filed its Motion to Admit Amended Information, it claimed that all it had to do was present even one credible witness who will admit that Accused De Lima conspired with them in engaging in the illegal drug trade. While Accused De Lima disputes such an unconstitutional theory of convicting an Accused of violation R.A. No. 9165, without proof of even the existence of the supposed illegal drugs allegedly traded, it is notable that the Prosecution failed to deliver even on that severely lowered bar for proving the guilt of a person beyond reasonable doubt of an offense punishable by the severest penalty available, i.e., life imprisonment,” according to De Lima’s motion.

It added, “Accused Leila M. De Lima respectfully prays that the instant Motion for Reconsideration on the denial of her Demurrer to Evidence be granted, and that the present criminal case be dismissed for failure of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the alleged violation under Section 26(b) in relation to Section 5 and Section 3(jj) of Republic Act No. 9165. Accused also prays that the denial of her Motion for Bail Ad Cautelam be reconsidered on the grounds that the evidence of guilt is not strong.”

At 2 p.m. today (Feb. 23), De Lima will be attending a hearing in another drug case at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 256.