Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 Presiding Judge Liezel Aquiatan has voluntarily inhibited herself from hearing one of the two remaining drug charges against Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima.
Aquiatan first issued an Order denying De Lima’s Motion for Voluntary Inhibition, prompting De Lima to file a 16-page Motion for Reconsideration last May 24, saying that the magistrate brushed aside without any serious consideration the clear grounds that she raised questioning her impartiality and moral courage in continuing to preside over the case.
Among the grounds that De Lima cited in her recent motion include what she deemed as Aquiatan’s “despotic manner” in refusing to consider the arguments in her Unopposed Motion for Bail “on the grossly erroneous premise that the Demurrer to Evidence ‘already amply covered everything.’”
De Lima said that Aquiatan admitted that she did not consider the arguments in the Motion for Bail in the belief that the Demurrer to Evidence “already covered everything,” which makes it clear she might not have actually read the motion for bail, for it raised issues that are appropriate for bail, but not for demurrer.
In her Motion for Voluntary Inhibition, De Lima presented clear evidence of the lopsidedness of the Presiding Judge’s Orders, which the latter still seems to continue to ignore and pretend as if such are not borne by the records.
De Lima said that Aquiatan 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, stressing that “there was no evidence whatsoever of any overt act of conspiracy.”
“How can there be conspiracy when the very elements of illegal drug trading itself – the drug traded, its quantity, the identity of the buyer and seller, and the consideration of the illegal drug sale – were not proven at all,” De Lima added.
De Lima also pointed out that the Presiding Judge was attempting to find evidence of her guilt by proving the guilt of persons who are not even on trial, and who have all testified under oath that they never had any dealings with her.
According to the Senator’s camp, a clear indication that the Judge bent backwards to justify her continued unjust detention is Judge Aquiatan’s unusual directive found at the end of the Feb. 17, 2021 Omnibus Order, stating that Senator De Lima’s acquittal is conditioned on defending the wisdom of decisions made by a high-level inter-agency task force that included PDEA, NBI, PNP, and other agencies in 2014, when the charge is about alleged delivery of money in 2012, two full years before the Bilibid raid.
“Clearly, the Judge was not only grasping at straws, she was borrowing events from the future to hide the total absence of evidence, ignoring that those are outside the coverage of the case before her,” the Senator said.
In a 70-page Motion for Reconsideration of the denial of demurrer filed last Feb. 22, which Aquiatan also denied, De Lima accused Aquiatan of cherry picking to suit the Prosecution’s narrative, while totally disregarding the arguments and cross-examinations conducted by her counsels.
“We welcome Judge Aquiatan’s voluntary inhibition from handling my case. This is an opportunity to have a presiding judge who will dispense true justice in this case without fear or favor,” De Lima said.
Aquiatan is the 5th judge who voluntarily inhibited from De Lima’s cases. Two other judges have availed of early retirement, which brings to a total of seven (7) judges exiting from the cases. (30)