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De Lima, counsel under fire

GOVERNMENT prosecutors yesterday asked the Muntinlupa City regional trial court to cite opposition leader, Sen. Leila De Lima, and her counsel Filibon Tacordon, in contempt for violating the sub judice rule when they allegedly publicly discussed the merits of her illegal drugs cases.

In a petition, the Department of Justice led by Provincial Prosecutor Ramoncito Ocampo noted Tacordon’s statement last October 23, revealing that prosecution witnesses have already cleared De Lima.

According to Tacordon, an investigator of the Anti-Money Laundering Council and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency testified that there were no suspicious transactions between de Lima and several drug convicts.

The lawyer’s statements, according to the DOJ, were picked up by news outlets both in print and online.

The DOJ stressed that Tacordon’s statements have undermined the independence of the trial court.

We found those statements to be contemptuous, and which prompted us to file this case,” Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Darwin Cañete for his part said.

Their press statements and pronouncements in different media platforms have the power to persuade, influence, intimidate, incite the perception and sentiments of their colleagues and other government officials, including the trial court judges,” the prosecution added.

De Lima is facing three separate drugs charges before the Muntinlupa RTC. In Criminal Case No. 17-166, Jose Adrian Dera, alias “Jad De Vera” and “Jad” is her co-accused.

She is also facing a case for disobedience to summons filed by the DOJ before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC).

De Lima is currently detained at the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame. She was accused of allegedly benefiting from illegal drugs when she was still the justice secretary.

Meanwhile, De Lima’s camp, in a statement said: “The defense panel does not engage in fake news. it vehemently denies the information now spreading that the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 reprimanded the Defense Team of Sen. Leila M. De Lima, for allegedly “twisting facts or inaccurate claims before media“, at the hearing earlier today. Nothing of that sort happened this morning. This is “fake news”.”