Former President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the decision of a local court to acquit ex-Senator Leila de Lima in her second drug case, according to Salvador Panelo, presidential legal counsel during his administration.
Panelo said Duterte told him that as a lawyer he should go by the court ruling on De Lima's case, according to “24 Oras” report on Friday.
Duterte also said that he was not the one who started the case against the detained former senator, a staunch critic of his anti-illegal drugs campaign.
The former chief executive said he never interfered with any decision of the executive departments in his administration.
According to the 39-page decision of the Muntinlupa court, De Lima and Ronnie Dayan, her co-accused and former bodyguard, were acquitted of an illegal drug trading charge on the ground of reasonable doubt.
The court stated that though the prosecution was able to establish the existence of rampant illegal drug trading at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), the retraction of former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Rafael Ragos cast reasonable doubt on De Lima and Dayan’s involvement in it.
Meanwhile, in a statement read by De Lima's lawyer, she said she had no doubt that she would be acquitted in all cases filed against her by the Duterte administration.
De Lima’s remaining case is pending at the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256, where she has sought to post bail.
In February 2021, the Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 205 junked one of the three drug cases against De Lima, who has repeatedly denied the charges.
The former senator also extended her gratitude to those who expressed their support and prayed for her throughout the years.—Richa Noriega/LDF, GMA Integrated News