By Jonathan Hicap
Detained Senator Leila de Lima was arraigned Friday in a second drug case filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and again refused to enter a plea, calling the charge a lie.
“Your honor, this charge is pure invention, pure fabrication. It’s a sham case. So there’s nothing to plead to. So therefore, I refuse to enter a plea,” the senator told Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205, who is hearing her two drug cases: 17-165 and 17-166, both pertain to charges of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading in violation of Section 26 of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
She added, “I was listening to the reading of the amended information. And I see that the amended information is a duplicitous charge, a flagrant violation against me, of my constitutional right to be duly informed of the nature of the accusations. How can I be charged under a single information with two distinct offenses? So I refuse, your honor.”
Jose Adrian Dera, her co-accused in the case, was not arraigned as he is still at-large.
Escorted by the police, de Lima and Ronnie Dayan arrived separately at the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice to attend the hearings.
De Lima was arraigned under case 17-166, which was originally filed by the DOJ as illegal drug trading but was amended to conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.
Under the case, she and Dera are accused of conspiring to extort, demand and solicit money amounting P3 million and four vehicles from Wu Tuan Yuan, a.k.a. Peter Co, a prisoner at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa sometime in March 2016 for the senatorial bid of De Lima in the May 2016 election.
The case said Co, using electronic devices, traded dangerous drugs and gave the proceeds and vehicles to De Lima through Dera.
Before De Lima’s arraignment, her lawyers filed an omnibus motion to quash the case but Judge Fabros-Corpuz immediately denied it.
“It’s sad because it seemed that the judge was not even able to read our omnibus motion and she immediately dismissed it. The prosecution was asking time to comment but she dismissed it right away,” Boni Tacardon, one of De Lima’s lawyers, told the media after the hearing.
De Lima’s camp insisted the amended case is another offense which is different from the original illegal drug trading filed by the DOJ and that the prosecution failed to identity the drug that was allegedly traded.
In case 17-165, De Lima, Dayan and Rafael Ragos, former officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections, are accused of conspiring to commit illegal drug trading to support De Lima’s senatorial bid.
It said that between November 2012 and March 2013, the three allegedly demanded money from NBP’s high-profile inmates who traded dangerous drugs and gave the proceeds amounting to at least P10 million to De Lima through Ragos and Dayan.
De Lima and Dayan were not arraigned in case 17-165 as the defense had a pending motion for reconsideration to the court’s decision to admit the amended information of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.
On July 27, De Lima was arraigned in drug case 17-166 at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206.