De Lima readies for possible trial on drug charges in 2018

Senator Leila de Lima awaits the resumption of the hearing on the Disobedience to Summons charge against her at a Quezon City court in this file photo, Jan. 5. HANDOUT PHOTO

MANILA – Detained senator Leila de Lima is prepared to attend all hearings before a Muntinlupa court, despite the rigors of traveling from her Quezon City detention place, should the Supreme Court reject her motion for reconsideration and allow her trial on drug-related cases to proceed.

The senator made known her plans in a statement released in her behalf by her office, a day after she attended another case against her – this time, for disobedience to summons – filed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and Justice committee chair Reynaldo Umali.

The disobedience to summons case was filed by the House leaders in Quezon City, and arose from de Lima’s alleged advice to her former driver Ronnie Dayan to defy a House order to appear at an inquiry it was conducting into the prison drug trade.

Radio reports said that during cross examination, Umali said he had no personal knowledge of the text exchange between de Lima and Dayan, but had based his conclusion on the text exchange as revealed during the House hearings on the prison drug trade.

Umali also stressed they charged de Lima because her act was an affront to the House officials’ effort to ferret out the truth about the prison drug trade.

Her office said Saturday (Jan. 6) de Lima had endured “political persecution” through 313 days in detention so far at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

De Lima said she has already prepared herself for a more difficult 2018 in terms of her personal and public life.

Should her Motion for Reconsideration before the SC “in connection with the trumped-up illegal drug trade charge the government filed” against her be denied, the trials could take its toll on her physical and emotional wellbeing, de Lima acknowledged.

“If my MR (motion for reconsideration) will be denied, the trial is expected to go on full swing. It will be physically and emotionally taxing because I intend to personally attend the hearings,” she said in an interview inside her detention quarters by her staff.

“It will be tough and difficult to repeatedly listen to perjured testimonies during those hearings. That’s why as early as now, I should be able to psyche myself up to control my emotion when listening to lies because I expect to hear lies and more lies,” she added.

Her lawyers had maintained that the cases against de Lima had made use of “manufactured evidence and perjured testimonies of mostly convicted felons during the Congressional hearings – focused on illegal drug trading allegedly committed while she served as DOJ Secretary.”

Last Oct. 10, the High Tribunal, voting 9-6, ruled against De Lima’s petition to nullify the arrest warrant issued against her by Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 for the “trumped-up” charge of illegal drug trade she allegedly committed while at DOJ.

In her 24-page MR on Nov. 3, De Lima said the High Tribunal should immediately rectify the continuing grave injustice committed against her because the majority of its members cannot even agree on the nature and cause of accusation against her.

“Confused about their theory of the case, the government prosecutors eventually filed a Motion to Amend Information, substituting the original accusation from drug trading to conspiracy to trade illegal drugs,” said a statement from the senator’s office on Saturday.

De Lima said her family, friends, and her legislative staff are also expected to face a more challenging year ahead as they will in one way or the other be involved in this ordeal.

De Lima, described by her party LP and her supporters as a “prisoner of conscience,” has since maintained that there is no proof linking her to the alleged illegal drug trade but a mere manufactured evidence and perjured testimonies from convicted felons.