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Muntinlupa court affirms dismissal of De Lima’s appeal to junk drug case

A Muntinlupa City court on Friday stood pat on its decision denying Senator Leila de Lima’s bid to be acquitted in one of her two remaining drug cases without presenting her defense.

Judge Liezel Aquiatan of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 205 dismissed for lack of merit De Lima’s motion for reconsideration in connection with the denial of her demurrer to evidence in the case involving her former driver and bodyguard Ronnie Dayan.

Aquiatan also junked Dayan’s appeal on the same ground.

“The court stands with its omnibus order that accused De Lima and Dayan must present their evidence to prove their innocence of the crime charged,” the judge said.

As a result, the court moved to the presentation of evidence or witnesses by the accused. Dayan will be the first to present his defense to be followed by De Lima.

“Si Ronnie Dayan kasi ang unang nakasalang na testigo, para sa kanya bilang akusado. At sinabi natin sa korte na karapatan iyon ng akusado at hindi puwedeng pigilan ninuman kung gugustuhin ng isang akusado na umupo para ilatag ang kanyang kuwento,” De Lima’s lawyer Rolly Peoro said in an interview after the hearing on Friday.

“Ang sabi naman ng korte ay oo. Wala tayong karapatan para pigilan si Ronnie Dayan kung gusto niyang magsalita para sa kanyang sarili. 'Yan 'yung mga nangyari ngayong araw na 'to so magkakaroon tayo ng hearing [sa] March 26 and April 16,” he added.

Peoro also said they will prepare their defense following the court’s decision against their appeal.

De Lima’s appeal insisted that she did not receive P10 million in proceeds from the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison during her term as justice secretary.

It was former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos who alleged that he delivered, along with aide Jovencio Ablen Jr., the money to De Lima's house in Parañaque City in 2012. The money was supposedly intended for De Lima’s senatorial campaign.

In her motion, De Lima accused Aquiatan of “cherry picking” because she supposedly devoted 20 pages of her order “summarizing the prosecution’s narrative without ever addressing or citing the information elicited during the witness’ testimonies that contradicted such narrative.”

Aquiatan replied that the non-inclusion of certain portions of the prosecution’s testimony “does not preclude the court to include them in the ultimate decision after hearing the version of the defense.”

“It does not deprive accused De Lima the opportunity to exculpate herself if she can convincingly refute this court’s initial findings,” the judge said.

Aquiatan, meanwhile, junked the motion for reconsideration filed by Jose Adrian Dera who had sought the dismissal of another drug case where De Lima had been acquitted. The court earlier allowed Dera to post bail worth P500,000.—AOL, GMA News