MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE, 4:55 P.M) Senator Leila de Lima accused the Supreme Court majority that junked her bid to recall her arrest and dismiss the drug charges against her of playing “blind” to what she called her “political persecution.”
The senator broke her silence after a Muntinlupa court denied her second motion to quash the drug-trading charges against her, as well as an urgent motion for furlough, to allow her to attend certain meetings at the Senate and travel from the custodial center of the National Police in Camp Crame, where she has been detained over 200 days.
“Nakakalungkot lang na tila nagbubulag-bulagan ang mayorya ng Supreme Court sa tunay na ginawa sa akin na panggigipit lang ito ng mga huwad na kaso. Ang international organizations kitang-kita po nila na this is really political persecution, bakit sila di nila makita (It is sad that the majority of the Supreme Court are playing blind to my persecution through these false charges. If international organizations can see this, why can’t they)?” the senator told reporters at what was supposed to be her arraignment at Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court branch 205 on Friday, October 13.
The court, one of three before which the Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against De Lima, rescheduled her arraignment to November 24 after her lawyers filed a motion for reconsideration to Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz’s earlier ruling dismissing the senator’s motion to quash.
Corpuz gave the prosecution until October 23 to file its comments to De Lima’s motion and the senator another five days to file her reply.
Senior assistant state prosecutor Ramoncito Ocampo, a member of the prosecution, said, however, “All the issues that were raised for the two motions for reconsideration were raised in two previous MRs and pleadings. We are confident that it will also be denied for being rehashed.
De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame since she surrendered in February after a warrant for her arrest was issued.
The senator said the justices who voted to let her remain in jail of “hiding in technicalities” when the issue should have revolved on “substantial justice.”
“Ang diwa ng batas ay katarungan. Makatarungan ba na ako nakakulong na wala naman ako kasalanan? Makatarungan ba na pinapaharap ako sa mga huwad na kaso (The spirit of the law is justice. Is it just that I am jailed when I have committed no crime? Is it just to make me face false charges)?” she said, adding her detention was preventing her from carrying out her tasks as senator.
Motion for furlough junked; Saguisag lends support
Besides her supporters outside, former senator Rene Saguisag, who continues in his human rights advocacy, also attended the hearing to boost the morale of the detained senator.
“I join them in hoping that at least two justices will take a second look and find out kung ano ang nangyayari dito dahil kung si Leila ay after winning tumahimik, sumali sa partido hunyango, hindi siya nakakulong ngayon [What is happening here deserves a second look because if Leila, after winning, had stayed quiet and joined the party of turncoats, she wouldn’t be in jail today],” said Saguisag.
The Muntinlupa court also rejected her very urgent motion for legislative furlough so she can attend Senate hearings. The court cited precedents where government officials cannot be given special treatment, and zeroed in on cost as a key factor as well.
“It is worthy to mention that the State is already incurring expenses for her security, her case being high-profile. The State would incur even mor expenses if she were to be guarded as she attends hearings away from Camp Crame.”
Atty. Boni Tacordon, her lawyer, explained, however, that furlough is important to them because de Lima “is still entitled and presumed as innocent.” At the same time, he added, she has a mandate as senator, and this is why they want the court to allow her attendance at specific meetings in the Senate.
The court set arraignment for November 24.