The arraignment Senator Leila de Lima on Friday was rescheduled to August after the embattled lawmaker questioned the arrest order of the court that ordered it.
Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz of Branch 205 of the Muntinlupa regional trial court set the arraignment of de Lima with co-accused Jose Adrian Dera alias Jad De Vera on August 18.
This is the third drug case the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed against de Lima who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center for her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
The NBP is under the jurisdiction of the DOJ.
The court gave the prosecution 19 days to answer de Lima’s motion and five days for the senator to respond.
Interviewed during his client’s arraignment, lawyer Alex Padilla said the charges against de Lima were weak because these were based solely on the statements of drug convicts.
Lawyer Peter Ong, lead prosecutor of the DOJ, countered that there was nothing wrong with using the statements of drug convicts as bases for the charges against de Lima.
When asked how she would assess President Rodrigo Duterte’s first year in office, de Lima, a staunch critic, said it was one of “fake news, lies and cursing”.
Two other drug cases against de Lima were also on the supposed proliferation of drugs inside the NBP when she was justice secretary.
The two cases were raffled off to Judge Patria Manalastas-De Leon of Branch 206 and Judge Juanita Guerrero of Branch 204, who first ordered her arrest and detention on February 23.
De Lima’s case in Branch 204, however, will depend on a petition she filed before the Supreme Court where she sought to have the arrest order against her nullified.
Court records showed that the third case lodged against de Lima and Dera were on allegations that the former justice secretary demanded and received money from Peter Co, a high profile inmate at the NBP, for her senatorial candidacy in May 2016.
De Lima had asked the lower court to recall the arrest warrant against her, citing the lack of jurisdiction and of probable cause.
The neophyte senator insisted in media interviews that the third case was the “weakest” because, Dera executed an affidavit denying her involvement in the crime.
“My accusers say that Mr. Jose Adrian Dera alias Jad Dera is a nephew and an aide of mine. I do not know him at all. Dera himself already denied any relationship or connection to me whatsoever,” she said in a statement released to the media last Sunday.
“In the process of the prosecution of my cases, I am optimistic that the handling judges will more and more realize the unreliability of the witnesses against me, as well as the incredibility of their stories. In the end, all of these so-called witnesses will be proven to have been lying all along, or have simply been threatened to falsely testify against me,” the senator, who is also a lawyer, said.