Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has appealed to the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 256 handling the 3rd of her three trumped-up drug cases to limit the Prosecution’s list of witnesses to those with personal knowledge of her case only.
In a six-page motion she filed through her lawyers last Jan. 12, De Lima said the Prosecution must only be allowed to add its main witnesses who have personal knowledge on the inculpatory allegations in the Amended Information, to the exclusion of non-essential witnesses, to avoid inordinate delay.
De Lima was originally charged with Illegal Trading/ Sale of Illegal Drugs but the Prosecution amended the Information, substantially changing the charge into an alleged conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading because of the absence of a corpus delicti needed for a conviction.
“In bail proceedings, the prosecution is obliged to present only pieces of evidence that are essential in establishing that the evidence of guilt is strong. To unnecessarily bloat the proceedings would be to violate the constitutional right of the accused to bail and to the speedy disposition of cases,” she said.
“While the Prosecution may have the right to choose its witnesses for bail hearings, such right is not unlimited and absolute if the constitutional right is to have any meaning. The prosecution cannot draw up a list that will convert the summary bail proceedings into a long-drawn out, full-blown trial on the merits,” she added.
In its Manifestation dated Dec. 28, 2020, De Lima said the Prosecution attempted to expand its previous list of bail witnesses, noting that it appeared that they have eight new witnesses whose names were not previously included in the Prosecution’s earlier Manifestation dated Sept. 6, 2018.
The Prosecution, in their recent Manifestation, reasoned that the list of witnesses they intended to present changed in view of what they called a belated Motion for Bail Ad Cautelam filed by De Lima last December 11, 2020.
Based on her initial observation, De Lima said the list of intended witnesses contained in the Prosecution’s Manifestation have been overly bloated with witnesses who, based on their affidavits, merely professed knowledge of collateral and purely corroboratory matters.
“In fact, a perusal of the affidavits of the new eight (8) intended witnesses and their previous testimonies in related cases will easily show that their testimonies can be dispensed with, or possibly even stipulated upon,” she said.
In submitting its list of bail witnesses, De Lima stressed that the Prosecution “must substantiate the need for the inclusion of those witnesses by stating the tenor of their testimonies to assure the court that the summary proceedings will not be converted into a long, drawn out and meandering fishing expedition,” defeating her constitutional right to bail.
“There is a need for the Prosecution to clarify the contents of the testimonies of its intended bail witnesses and the purpose for which they are being offered,” she said.
Likewise, De Lima said the Prosecution should state the order of presentation of the intended bail witnesses and their date of presentation because these were unclear in the Manifestation.
“For the orderly administration of justice and to allow proper preparation on the part of the defense and the trial court alike, the Prosecution should be clear and forthright as to the order of its presentation of its witnesses and/or their respective dates of presentation in order to ensure that the trial will proceed smoothly and fairly,” she said.
As to the two (2) other trumped-up drug cases before another court, Muntinlupa RTC-Branch 205, De Lima’s separate Motions for Bail and Demurrers to Evidence filed therein are now deemed submitted for resolution. (30)