De Lima to Guevarra: Be forthright about evidence of my persecution

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    SEN. Leila M. de Lima has urged Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to be more forthright about the evidence of her wrongful imprisonment and political persecution she is enduring under the Duterte administration.

    “(T)here is strong evidence, not of my guilt, but of my wrongful prosecution and imprisonment, or my persecution,” she said in her recent dispatch from Crame No. 700.

    “I have questioned so many abuses of due process in my case. Some have been completely ignored and unacted upon altogether; others have been dismissed unceremoniously. Time and again, with every step, rules are being re-written and the law being twisted,” she said.

    She also rebuked Guevarra for over-simplifying the Supreme Court’s decision to affirm the charges filed against her and for refusing to look at the details of the 9-6 vote of the justices.

    “What Guevarra also failed to point out is that although nine of the 15 Supreme Court justices dismissed my petition, in truth I won in the Supreme Court because the differences in opinion of those (nine) justices, in fact, proved my point that the information is void for being insufficient to inform me of the charges against me,” she explained.

    Only five justices – Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Lucas Bersamin, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr., and Alexander Gesmundo – voted to hold De Lima in continued pre-trial detention for illegal drug trading.

    “In fact,” she added, “even the DOJ under Guevarra acknowledged that there was something wrong with the charges against me when they moved to amend the information against me by – lo and behold! – changing the nature of the offense.”

    It can be recalled that that the Justice Department spent months amending its charges against De Lima. She earnestly fought the amendment, saying they are two different crimes.

    According to her, this emboldened the government’s prosecution to claim that all they need to do is present testimonies of personalities with questionable character, including inmates who have been convicted of heinous crimes.

    “I was no longer being charged with illegal drug trading, but now mere “conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading,” with the convenient effect that the prosecution only needs to present witnesses who would confess to have conspired with me,” she said.

    She also questioned the government prosecution team’s obvious delaying tactics to present an alleged Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) report supposedly containing evidence that she received money from the illegal drug trade. The prosecution, in one of the hearings, admitted that none of the bank accounts belongs to De Lima.