By Kristine Joy V. Patag

Court enters not-guilty plea for De Lima in disobedience case

Posted on March 14, 2017

DETAINED Senator Leila M. de Lima on Monday refused to enter a not-guilty plea before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (QC MeTC) Branch 24 on her disobedience to summons case filed by the Department of Justice (DoJ).

QC MeTC Judge Ma. Ludmila D. Pio-Lim entered a not guilty plea on her behalf, following Rules of Court Rule 116, Section 1.

The charge was filed in connection with her alleged “inducement” to her former aide and alleged bagman Ronnie Palisoc Dayan to ignore the summons from the House of Representatives during its probe on the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

The Department of Justice issued a resolution on Dec. 15 indicting Ms. De Lima on violation of Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for disobedience to summons issued by the legislature, its committees or subcommittees.

The resolution was issued two days after the complaint filed by House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez and Oriental Mindoro Representative Reynaldo V. Umali before the DoJ.

At yesterday’s hearing, the court dismissed Ms. De Lima’s motion for reconsideration in the finding of probable cause for being filed out of time. Ms. Pio-Lim noted that Ms. De Lima’s camp filed the motion on March 10, a day after the court-mandated 15-day period for filing lapsed.

To note, Ms. De Lima’s camp received the copy of the resolution finding probable cause on Feb. 22. The deadline for filing the motion for reconsideration was on March 9.

The court then proceeded with the preliminary conference of the case, wherein Ms. De Lima’s camp refused to stipulate on the photocopy of Ms. De Lima’s alleged text messages to Mr. Dayan’s daughter, Hanna Mae Dayan, advising his father to “hide” and not attend the House inquiry. Ms. De Lima’s camp said the photocopy is “not authenticated.”

They also noted that the prosecution, on Dec. 27, 2017 submitted an amended information on the case that changed its prior resolution citing Mr. Dayan was “advised” not to attend by Ms. De Lima.

The court then moved to rule on whether “inducement was committed by the accused (Ms. De Lima).”

The prosecution said they will present six more witnesses, aside from Messrs. Alvarez, Umali, and Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas. The prosecution also had the following evidence marked by the court: House of Representative’s subpoena, show-cause order, order of contempt, and the photocopy of the alleged text messages of Ms. De Lima to Mr. Dayan’s daughter.

Ms. De Lima’s camp, for its part, said they have no other witness aside from Ms. De Lima herself. Evidence marked for her camp include House of Representative’s subpoena, counter-affidavit, and transcript of stenographic notes of the congressional hearing.

The court set the next hearing on April 26, 2:00 p.m., and also moved that Ms. De Lima should appear on every hearing.

Meanwhile, from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center where she is currently detained for her illegal drugs case, Ms. De Lima sent a message of gratitude to her supporters.

Ms. De Lima also sent a message regarding the up-and-coming Supreme Court (SC) oral arguments on her petition challenging the legality of her arrest. The message read in part: “Umaasa po ako na pagbibigyan ng Korte Suprema ang aking kahilingan na palayain na po ako. Malaking pagkakamali po ang pagkakakulong sakin (I am hoping that the SC will grant my plea to be freed. It is a huge mistake to have me detained).”

She also insisted on her innocence: “Inosente po ako. Hindi po ako drug lord o drug trade queen. Hindi po ako corrupt. Hindi po ako mamamatay tao (I am innocent. I am not a drug lord or a drug trade queen. I am not corrupt. I am not a killer).”

Gusto lang naman ako nilang patahimikin (They just want to silence me),” Ms. De Lima also said.

For his part, Mr. Alvarez said about the incumbent senator during a press briefing in Malacañang on Monday:

Huwag po tayong maniniwala na hanggang ngayon ay yung mga maliliit lang po ang biktima dito sa ginagawa nating war on drugs. In fact po, nakakulong na po ang public enemy number one, yung number one drug lord sa buong Pilipinas ay nakakulong na po. Ito ay yung dating senadora natin na si Leila de Lima (Let’s not believe only the small fry are the victims in our war on drugs. In fact, public enemy number one is now in jail, the number one drug lord in the whole Philippines is now in jail. This is our former senator Leila de Lima).”

The SC will hear arguments on Ms. De Lima’s petition for a writ of preliminary injunction, temporary restraining order, and Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) with a full court, including the two new appointees made by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Former Solicitor-General Florin T. Hilbay said on Twitter he will represent Ms. De Lima in the oral arguments. Mr. Hilbay served as the government’s top counsel from 2014 to 2016.

The government will be represented by Solicitor-General Jose C. Calida. -- with Lucia Edna P. de Guzman and Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral