DOJ changes drug raps vs De Lima; Leila says this proves charges vs her are weak, baseless

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima is being escorted by members of the Philippine National Police on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court-Branch 204. Photo from the Office of Sen. De Lima

MANILA, Philippines — The supposed arraignment of Sen. Leila de Lima on Thursday, Nov. 16, did not push through after the Department of Justice asked Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court-Branch 204 to allow it to amend its case against the lawmaker from drug trading to drug conspiracy.

In their Nov. 10, 2017 motion to amend information, government prosecutors accused De Lima of “conspiring and confederating with” her co-accused and former bodyguard driver Ronnie Dayan of deciding and agreeing “to commit illegal drug trading.”

The amended complaint accuses De Lima and Dayan of violating Section 26(b) in relation to Section 5 (attempt or conspiracy to drug trading) and Section 28 (criminal liability of government officials) of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Dangerous Drugs Act.

The new motion claimed that the drug conspiracy took place when the inmates of the National Bilibid Prison “willfully and unlawfully traded and trafficked dangerous drugs” and thereafter “gave” the proceeds to De Lima “through Dayan.”

The prosecutors further alleged in its new motion that De Lima and Dayan also used the NBP inmates in selling narcotics in 2012, making the then DOJ chief and her bodyguard-driver earn P10 million.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ramoncito Ocampo, member of the DOJ prosecution panel, said that while the department had moved to modify the charges against De Lima, “the evidence presented by the prosecution under the original information will also be used as same evidence to be presented in the amended information.”

‘Illegal arrest’

De Lima on Thursday said the DOJ’s move to amend the case it filed against her was a proof that the charges slapped on her were weak and without basis and thus her arrest and detention were also illegal.

Ibig sabihin, hindi pa rin talaga nila alam ano ba talaga ang akusasyon nila sa akin. Kung ang Supreme Court mismo they also cannot agree on the true charge whether drug trading or conspiracy to trade drugs, ibig sabihin, illegal ang pagkakaaresto sa akin,” the lawmaker said.

Earlier, De Lima’s camp argued before the Supreme Court that while the lawmaker was being accused by the DOJ of engaging in drug trade, there clearly was no corpus delicti or evidence of the drugs that were allegedly traded by the senator.

De Lima’s counsel, former solicitor Florin Hilbay said that to be able to —rehabilitate”€ the dilemma arising from the baseless accusation, the Office of the Solicitor General had attempted to €œtransform the accusation from drug trafficking to mere conspiracy to engage in drug trafficking so that the prosecutors would no longer be required to present the corpus delicti.