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De Lima drug cases may be resolved by March —lawyer

The camp of detained former Senator Leila de Lima on Friday said there is likelihood that all her drug-related cases may be resolved by March.

"We're looking at our possible timeline na Marso matapos lahat. Halos magkasabay," said Atty. Filibon "Boni" Tacardon in an interview following the day's proceedings at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204.

(We're looking at a possible timeline where everything will be completed by March.)

De Lima is facing three charges of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trade. One was dismissed by the Muntinlupa RTC in February 2021 due to weak evidence.

De Lima, who has been detained since February 2017, attended the hearing on one of the two remaining cases earlier in the day.

"Practically, ang nangyari lang ay nanood lang kami ng video ngayong umaga. Walang nangyaring pagtatanungan," Tacardon said, adding that they are expecting the prosecution to finish with their cross-examination by the next hearing.

(Practically, what happened is we just watched videos this morning. There was no cross-examination.)

He said the next hearing for this charge will be held on February 10 and 24.

Meanwhile, the hearings for De Lima’s other case before the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256 will be held on January 30 and February 6.

"At pagkatapos noon, dahil nakasampa 'yung aming motion for bail, inaasahan namin ito'y ma-resolba na," Tacardon said.

Bail vs. Writ of habeas corpus

Meanwhile, Tacardon said that though they are focusing on De Lima's motion for bail, they are not closing their doors to the possible application of a writ for habeas corpus.

"So uulitin ko, hindi namin sinasara ang pintuan sa habeas corpus petition pero to be candid, kahit si Senator Leila de Lima ay naka-focus lang talaga sa kanyang bail application sa kasalukuyan," Tacardon said.

(Again, we are not closing our doors to a habeas corpus petition, but to be frank, even Senator De Lima is focused on her bail application at this moment.)

This is in light of the Supreme Court's resolution granting a writ of habeas corpus for the release of Jessica Lucila "Gigi" Reyes, former chief of staff of former senator and now Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile, in connection with her plunder and graft case.

The writ of habeas corpus is the accused’s protection against illegal imprisonment.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla earlier said that the same reasoning may apply to Sen. De Lima’s case.

However, Tacardon said they are still looking into this as there were many factors to the decision of the high court in granting the writ of habeas corpus.

"Tinitignan namin ito kung ito’y pasok sa naging condition at circumstances ni Senator Leila De Lima. Para sa amin, hindi lang ‘yung tagal ng kanyang pagkakakulong ang aming dapat isaalang-alang kung babasahin natin 'yung resolution,” he said.

(We are checking if these factors can be applicable to the condition and circumstances of Senator Leila De Lima. For us, we shouldn’t only check the length of her imprisonment when we check the resolution.) —KBK, GMA Integrated News