De Lima on acquittal: ‘I am vindicated’; says Duterte will be held accountable for ‘war on drugs’

Former senator Leila de Lima said she felt vindicated after the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 206 acquitted her in the last remaining drug case filed in 2017 under the Duterte administration. 

She also warned former president Rodrigo Duterte that he will be held responsible for the "bloody" war on drugs he implemented during his time. 


Delima1.jpgFormer senator Leila de Lima celebrates with her supporters after she is acquitted in the last remaining drug case in Muntinlupa on June 24 (Jonathan Hicap)


The Muntinlupa Hall of Justice (Jonathan Hicap)Delima3.jpg

De Lima's lawyer Boni Tacardon shows the dispositive portion of the decision acquitting her in the drug case on June 24 (Jonathan Hicap)

On June 24, the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206 granted De Lima’s demurrer to evidence, which is equivalent to an acquittal, filed on March 20 this year in case 17-167, one of the three cases filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in February 2017.

“Thus, assessing the totality of the evidence presented by the prosecution, the Court is of the resolve and so holds that the prosecution was not able to prove the guilt of all the accused beyond reasonable doubt,” Presiding Judge Gener Gito wrote in the decision. 

“Wherefore, for failure of the Prosecution to prove the guilt of all the accused beyond reasonable doubt, the respective Demurrer to Evidence filed by the accused are granted. Thus, Leila M. De Lima, Franklin Jesus B. Bucayu, Ronnie Palisoc Dayan, Joenel Tan Sanchez and Jose Adrian Tiamson Dera are acquitted of the charge against them,” he added.

After attending the hearing in the case, De Lima said, “Makakatulog na po ako ng maluwag (I can now sleep comfortably).” 

“With the grant of our demurrer to evidence, which is tantamount to acquittal,  this means I am completely free, and vindicated.  I respected the rule of law despite the pain and the injustice of it all.  I confronted the charges head on and I went through and endured the whole process,” she said at the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice. 

She added, “Salamat din po sa aking (Also I want to thank my) legal team for their hard work and extraordinary commitment in defending against these fabricated, spurious charges.”

De Lima said her message to Duterte is, “Kayo ngayon ang mananagot sa mga kasalanan niyo sa taongbayan (You will now be held responsible for your sins to the countrymen)." 

“Isa lang po akong biktima. Libo-libong mga Pilipino ang mga pinaslang nila nung nakaraang madugo at pekeng war on drugs (I am just a victim. They killed thousands of Filipinos in the past bloody and fake war on drugs),” she said.  

According to Her, “Maraming pamilya ang naulila. Yung iba hindi nga pinatay pero nabubulok naman sila sa kulungan dahil sa mali at baluktot na pagpapatupad ng batas. Isa po ako sa nakadanas niyan nang walang katuturang pagpapakulong (Many families were orphaned. Others were not killed but they are languishing in jail because of the wrong and crooked implementation of the law. I was one of those who experienced the senseless imprisonment)."  

With her acquittal, De Lima said she is more determined to help the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its investigation on Duterte’s war on drugs. 

“Dahil pagkatapos ng pitong taon, mas handa po ako na ituloy ang laban. Siya ngayon ang mananagot [Duterte]. Kailangan panagutin dahil wala namang nangyayari dito sa Pilipinas (Because after seven years, I am now more ready to continue the fight. He will be held responsible. He should be held accountable),” she said. 

The Department of Justice under the Duterte administration filed three drug cases against De Lima for illegal drug trading which were later changed to conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading. 

Before the decision on the last case came, two drug cases were dismissed by Muntinlupa courts in 2021 and 2023.