DETAINED Sen. Leila De Lima yesterday questioned before the Court of Appeals the decision of the Muntinlupa regional trial court denying her earlier plea to disqualify 13 convicts from testifying against her in connection with the drug-related charges filed by the Department of Justice.
In a petition, De Lima said Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206 Judge Lorna Navarro-Domingo committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess in jurisdiction when she denied her plea to disqualify the 13 convicts from testifying against her.
In denying De Lima’s plea to disqualify the convicts currently serving time at the New Bilibid Prison, the RTC cited Section 20, Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which stated that “all persons who can perceive...can make their perception to others, may be witnesses.”
But de Lima told the CA that the individuals do not qualify as state witnesses because they are, by law, disqualified to be admitted into the Witness Protection Program for their conviction of crimes involving moral turpitude.
“The Supreme Court has ruled that allowing convicted criminals previously convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude to testify as state witnesses is arbitrary and a gross violation of the rules,” De Lima said.
“The 13 convicted criminals are not ordinary witnesses, but are state witnesses admitted illegally into the Witness Protection Program in violation of Section 10 of Republic Act 6918 or the Witness Protection, Security and Benefits Act,” she added.
The 13 convicts are German Agojo, Nonilo Arile, Jojo Baligad, Joel Capones, Peter Co, Herbert Colanggo, Engelberto Durano, Rodolfo Magleo, Noel Martinez, Jaime Patcho, Vicente Sy, Hans Tan and Froilan Trestiza.
De Lima argued that the DoJ has no legal basis to use them as witnesses in the case filed against her.