De Lima asks Muntinlupa judge to voluntarily inhibit from drug case


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has sought for the voluntary inhibition of Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 Judge Liezel Aquiatan due to clear doubts as to the latter’s “impartiality, fairness, moral courage, and integrity.”

In a 49-page Motion for Voluntary Inhibition filed by her lawyers last March 25, De Lima said she has lost faith on the impartiality of Aquiatan to render justice in one of her two remaining trumped-up drug cases.

“This Motion for Voluntary Inhibition, apart from documenting for posterity the unacceptable errors of the Honorable Presiding Judge and her failure to uphold her sworn oath, is intended to give her the chance to ascertain whether she is still fit to continue presiding in this case,” the motion stated.

“The Honorable Presiding Judge is urged to revisit her conscience. Can she sleep soundly at night, knowing the unjustness of her recent orders with respect to this case and the fact that innocent individuals are, in the meantime, deprived of their freedom?” the document stated.

Aquiatan granted De Lima’s Demurrer to Evidence in Case No. 17-166, but she dismissed the Senator’s Demurrer and bail bids in a Joint Omnibus Order and ordered the trial to proceed in Case No. 17-165 which the Senator is facing with former aide and co-accused Ronnie Dayan.

 In a 70-page Motion for Reconsideration filed last Feb. 22, De Lima accused Aquiatan of “cherry picking” and asked her to reconsider her earlier decision denying her bid to post bail and junk one of her bogus drug cases.

Aquiatan, however, later ruled in a two-page order last March 5 that the court stands with its Omnibus Order to continue with the trial.

Considering the blatant errors contained in Aquiatan’s Orders in relation to Case No. 17-165, De Lima said she was constrained to file the motion to invoke her right to a fair trial before an impartial judge.

“Either she is truly grossly ignorant of the law despite her education and experience or she deliberately went against established principles because she is biased against Senator De Lima and she is acting pursuant to other motivations apart from upholding the rule of law and her mandate to properly dispense justice,” the document read.

Among the errors that was cited in the Motion include Aquiatan’s wrong application of legal principles just to accommodate inadmissible evidence and the unsound theory of the Prosecution and giving wholesale credence to questionable and incredible testimonies without even considering material points raised by the Defense.

De Lima further stressed that Aquiatan believed the testimony of NBI intelligence agent Jovencio Ablen, Jr., former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, former Bilibid inmate Gerry Valeroso, and Bilibid inmate Nonito Arile wholesale without even assessing the very credibility of these witnesses and their respective stories vis-à-vis the cross examinations conducted by both Accused’s counsels.

“The Honorable Presiding Judge’s failure to consider any part of the cross-examinations of the counsel for both accused renders nugatory all the time and effort devoted by the Defense to scrutinize the witnesses. To repeat, not a single word in the Omnibus Order was devoted to discuss any of the cross-examinations,” De Lima said.

Likewise, according to the motion, Aquiatan required De Lima to explain the accusation that she received money, even though such never happened.

Given the compelling and self-evident evidence on record which the Honorable Presiding Judge chose to ignore, De Lima noted that Aquiatan has provided the impression that she is biased against her and has already prejudged the case.

“It is clear that the Honorable Presiding Judge provided a lopsided analysis of the evidence on record in the Omnibus Order. She only chose to entertain and appreciate the narrative weaved by the Prosecution,” the document read.

“For her to constantly ignore compelling evidence on record in a consistent pattern can only mean one thing: she is not inclined to consider whatever evidence and arguments Accused De Lima may have. She already ignored all the pieces of evidence favoring Accused De Lima,” it added.

As part of her right to due process, De Lima maintained that she deserves a presiding judge who will dispense justice in this case without fear or favor.

“Considering her recent actions, it appears that the Honorable Presiding Judge is not that judge,” said De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime. (30)

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