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De Lima celebrates rare 'moral victory' after years behind bars, but Palace says there's nothing to celebrate

By Bim Santos Published Feb 18, 2021 5:32 am

Opposition senator Leila de Lima, who has been in jail since 2017, called the dismissal of one of her three drug cases a “moral victory,” but Malacanang said there is nothing to crow about as she is still in jail.

“Ikinalulugod po natin ang pag-abswelto sa akin at pagbasura ng Korte sa aking kaso sa Criminal Case No. 17-166. To be acquitted even in just one case, in the time of Duterte, is a moral victory,” De Lima said in a statement.

Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 Judge Leizel Aquiatan issued two rulings on two demurrer to evidence filed by De Lima on her pending cases. A demurrer is a motion filed by a defendant to dismiss a case due to weak evidence.

Aquiatan granted one demurrer, but dismissed the other.

Handout photo from De Lima's Twitter account

The demurrer was granted, thereby dismissing the case, on the charge involving Jose Adrian “Jad” Dera, a police asset who claimed to run the Bilibid drug trade with De Lima.

Dera’s demurrer, however, was denied, meaning he will still be tried for the case. 

Aquiatan, however, dismissed De Lima’s demurrer and motion for bail in Case Number 17-165, which involves the latter’s bodyguard Ronnie Dayan.

De Lima’s camp will now have to present evidence in Case Number 17-165, though her camp said they “believe in the weakness of government evidence that will implicate her in the drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison.”

Fourth year in detention
“Ang kaso laban sa akin ay conspiracy to engage in illegal drug trading. Pero ang lumabas sa mga pagdinig, walang ebidensya ng kasunduan. Walang kahit isang testigo na nagpatunay na ako at ang aking kapwa akusado ay nakipagsabwatan sa mga drug lords para maglako o magbenta ng ilegal na droga sa Bilibid,” said De Lima.

De Lima, who will mark her fourth year in detention on Feb. 24, said she will also file a motion for reconsideration in relation to the court’s denial of her demurrer in Case Number 17-165. 

De Lima also has a pending motion for bail in her third drug case.

In an interview over ANC today Feb. 18, Lawyer Dino de Leon said De Lima should be allowed to post bail as she is not a flight risk.

"Considering her presumption of innocence and the fact that she is a duly-elected senator of the Republic, (bail) should be allowed,” de Leon said.

When asked for comment on the developments in the case, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said there is nothing to celebrate for De Lima, who is one of the fiercest critics of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Wala po kaming reaksyon diyan, dahil nakakulong pa rin siya,” Roque in a press briefing today. “Dahil siya’y nakakulong pa rin kasi mayroon pa siyang dalawang kaso so bakit po siya magse-celebrate eh nandun pa rin siya sa selda niya.”