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De Lima questions DOJ’s move vs her lawyers: They’re just disclosing facts

By: Gabriel Pabico Lalu – Reporter, INQUIRER.net/ November 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima has questioned the move of the Department of Justice (DOJ), which asked the court to cite her lawyers in contempt for making public some developments that occurred in court proceedings related to her case.

De Lima was referring to DOJ Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento’s statement last Wednesday wherein the latter accused her lawyers of violating the sub judice rule, which bars disclosure of certain details in a case.

But the opposition senator, who is facing drug-related charges which she supposedly committed during her stint as Justice Secretary in the previous administration, maintained that there was nothing wrong about what her lawyers did as she authorized them to reveal materials and declarations from the hearings.

“What my lawyers, particularly Atty. Boni Tacardon, the spokesperson of my legal defense team, have been sharing with media and the public as to the developments in my cases, are FACTUAL,” De Lima said in a handwritten note from her detention cell in Camp Crame, dated November 13.

“Wala pong sinungaling sa kampo namin. As their principal, I authorized my lawyers to disclose to the public material and significant particulars from witnesses’ declarations during the hearings, and other case developments, in the interest of truth and transparency,” she added.

Malcontento was referring to recent news releases issued by De Lima’s camp in which some happenings during the court hearings were revealed. These issues include the development when a witness recanted his earlier testimonies against the detained senator.

Specifically, on November 6, De Lima’s team disclosed that prosecution witness Vicente Sy, a convicted drug lord, has said under oath that he neither met De Lima nor gave money for the senator’s candidacy in 2012.

“Si Vicente Sy ay tumestigo noon at sinabi niya na nag-ambag daw siya ng halagang P500k para daw sa kampanya ni Senator De Lima noong 2012,” Tacardon had said.

(Vicente Sy testified before and he said that he contributed P500,000 for Senator De Lima’s campaign in 2012.)

“Pero sa aming pagtatanong kanina, sinabi niya na kailanman ay hindi siya nagbigay ng pera kay Senator De Lima at sinabi rin niya na hindi niya kilala si De Lima,” he had also said.

(But with our questioning a while ago, he said that he has never seen Senator De Lima, and he said that he does not know Senator De Lima.)

But Malcontento insisted that no recantation happened.

According to De Lima, her case has become public interest as she believes these are trumped-up charges that stem from her scathing criticisms of the Duterte administration.

“There is no denying that the trial in my trumped-up drug cases is of high interest to the public. Hence, the public’s right to know what’s going on in these cases cannot be stifled,” she asserted.

De Lima has insisted several times that she is not a drug suspect, rather, the cases were filed to silence her as she was leading a probe on extrajudicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.  However, Duterte claimed that De Lima is not a prisoner of conscience, but a prisoner of lust.#

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