De Lima says Muntinlupa judge failed to uphold her sworn duty, asks her to inhibit


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has maintained that Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 Presiding Judge Liezel Aquiatan has clearly exhibited bias against her considering the magistrate’s “blatant errors” regarding the case.

In her 49-page Motion filed last March 25 asking Aquiatan to voluntarily inhibit from handling one of her two remaining trumped-up drug cases, De Lima said the former failed to uphold her duty to junk the drug case despite the failure of Prosecution to present sufficient competent evidence that would link her in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

“The Honorable Presiding Judge disregarded the Amended Information vesting her with jurisdiction. The Amended Information alleged that a) there was consummated drug trading and b) the accused conspired to commit the same,” the document read.

“Since the Prosecution failed to adduce any evidence to prove any of the elements of drug trading—there was no evidence offered to prove the drug traded, its quantity, the identity of the buyer and seller, and the consideration of the illegal drug sale—the grant of the Demurrer was the duty of the Honorable Presiding Judge, which duty she failed to do,” De Lima said.

It can be recalled that the Prosecution filed an Amended Information that changed the crime imputed against De Lima from “illegal drug trading” to “conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading,” fully realizing that they had no proof of any of illegal drugs allegedly traded.

In this case, the Prosecution accused De Lima for allegedly receiving two payments of P5 million on Nov. 24, 2012 and another P5 million on Dec. 15, 2012 purportedly coming from NBP drug trade proceeds to raise funds for her senatorial bid, an accusation she consistently and firmly denied.

In her Motion for Voluntary Inhibition, the lady Senator from Bicol enumerated the elements that the Prosecution failed to establish during the years of trial.

De Lima said these include the alleged agreement between her and co-accused to commit the trading of illegal drugs, the identification of the buyer and seller as provided in the agreement, the illegal drugs to be sold, the consideration in exchange for the illegal drugs to be sold and the method (specifically the use of electronic devices) employed in selling the illegal drugs.

“As there is clearly an undeniable paucity of evidence proffered by the Prosecution to prove these elements – or the corpus of the crime, it became the duty of the Honorable Presiding Judge to grant the Demurrer. Here, she failed in her duty,” De Lima reiterated.

“Given the ramshackle reasoning of the Honorable Presiding Judge in her recent orders and her outright act of just ignoring the compelling arguments of the Defense in the Motion for Reconsideration through a two (2)-page Omnibus Order, she has given the impression that she has already prejudged the case.

“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. What can now assure the Defense that she will all of a sudden open her mind and be receptive once she continues handling the case?” the Motion stated.

In a previous statement, De Lima’s legal counsels already stressed that De Lima’s case is the only drug case without any proof of drugs traded, and that no witness admitted to being involved or conspiring in the selling of illegal drugs.

De Lima also has this to say: “While Judge Aquiatan is the same judge who acquitted me in the other case, Crim. Case No. 17-166, the errors and irregularities that characterize her disposition of our Demurrer to Evidence in Crim. Case No. 17-165, are too palpable to ignore as would incite belief that she has other motivations in so acting as she did. In asking her to recuse, I’m simply safeguarding my rights to a fair trial and an impartial judge.”

De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, has earlier said that the entirety of the Prosecution’s evidence more credibly and reasonably makes out a narrative that proves her innocence. (30)

(Photo c/o Aaron Favila / AP)

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