Senator de Lima refused to enter a plea on a second count of involvement in the drug trade, eighteen months after first being jailed.
Leila De Lima was arraigned for one count of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court today (Friday, August 10).
However, she refused to enter a plea before Judge Amelia Fabros Corpuz, calling it “a sham case”.
She said: “Your Honour, 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.”
As is usual in such situations, the judge entered a “not guilty” plea on the Senator’s behalf. Corpuz is due to handle another count of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading, which De Lima is yet to be arraigned for due to a pending motion.
De Lima was first arraigned last month for the third and final count of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.
The arraignments concluded 18 months of resets and delays since February 2017 when she was arrested and detained at the Camp Crame national police headquarters.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) spent months amending its charges against De Lima, moving from ‘illegal drug trading’ to ‘conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading’.
Fighting this amendment, De Lima argued that they were two different crimes. She raised this issue again today.
“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 offences?” she said.
As she left the court, she shouted to the assembled throng: “Don’t believe, don’t be fooled by Arroyo and Duterte!”
The upcoming trial will have to unpick all of the core issues of the charges against De Lima. For example, she has demanded that the DOJ present tangible evidence against her, such as a money trail of the supposed earnings from the Bilibid Drug Trade alleged to have funded her 2016 senatorial campaign.
So far, the DOJ has anchored its charges on the testimonies of convicted drug lords, who have turned state witness against De Lima.
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Posted by CNN Philippines on Thursday, August 9, 2018