Muntinlupa court summons witnesses in De Lima’s last drug case
Muntinlupa court summons witnesses in De Lima’s last drug case
Muntinlupa court summons witnesses in De Lima’s last drug case
by Daylight Abas01 August 2023
Photo courtesy: Reuters

The Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 206 has ordered three witnesses in the outstanding drug case of former Senator Leila de Lima to testify in court once proceedings resume in September and October.

The order came after prosecutors asked the court to issue a subpoena to former police officers Froilan Trestiza and Rodolfo Magleo, as well as gang leader Jaime Patcho, who were recently relocated from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) to the Sablayan Penal Colony.

The three were due to testify before Presiding Judge Gener Gito on September 11, 18, 25, and October 16.

All parties were advised in a notice to attend the hearing online via video conference.

The case contains charges that De Lima condoned massive illegal drug trafficking in the Bilibid while serving as Secretary of Justice.

During Tuesday's hearing, the court also informed the parties that De Lima's motion for reconsideration on the denial of temporary liberty was still ongoing, but no date for a resolution was given.

Magleo, a former police chief inspector convicted of abduction in 2004 for ransom, and Trestiza, a former police officer convicted of kidnapping for ransom in 2007, previously told investigators how the late jail leader Jaybee Sebastian enjoyed privileges and had direct communication with De Lima.

Sebastian died in 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 in 2019.

Patcho, a prison gang leader, also told investigators that Sebastian encouraged him to help him raise funds for De Lima's Senate campaign.

Previously, the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 refused a motion for reconsideration filed by government prosecutors, seeking that the lower court review its decision to acquit the former senator on one of her three drug charges.

Judge Abraham Alcantara refused the government's plea to revisit the May 12 ruling acquitting De Lima and co-accused Ronnie Dayan for lack of merit.

Prosecutors had already requested that Alcantara disqualify himself from hearing the last remaining case against De Lima, which had been re-raffled to his court following the suspension of the previous judge, Branch 256 Judge Romeo Buenaventura.

They questioned Alcantara's impartiality because he acquitted De Lima in another cocaine case. Buenaventura, who denied De Lima's bail request, voluntarily recused himself at the request of the former lawmaker's side.

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