She wails to her allies and rights groups about her being a political prisoner, yet the detained Sen. Leila de Lima appears to be doing everything to delay her trial, including her many moves to bar some prisoners from testifying against her, as well as her penchant for getting the judges hearing her cases to inhibit themselves, which makes people wonder why she seems so terrified of the prisoner-witnesses testifying against her.
De Lima again sought the recusal of yet another Muntinlupa judge hearing her case, accusing the judge of bias and that Judge Lorna Navarro-Domingo has made a ruling despite the senator’s motion she had submitted earlier.
The judge had earlier rejected De Lima’s motion to have the prisoner-witnesses tapped by government to testify against her part in the New Bilibid Prison’s drug trading scheme.
The judge stood her ground on the ruling that the prisoners can testify and was just about ready to start hearing the testimonies, but eventually inhibited herself from the case.
That was not the first time De Lima played that dirty bias trick on the judges assigned to hear her cases and there is doubt it would be the last time she would resort to this again.
As is her wont, Leila went straight to the appellate court, this time following the judicial hierarchical structure, seeking the justices’ decision to ban the witness-prisoners from testifying against her, delaying further the trial of her drug cases.
De Lima perhaps is hoping for a change of government and president, preferably with the yellow vice president taking over, for the senator to be set free. However, wishing Leni Robredo to step into the presidency may not happen at all and the more Leila deliberately delays her trial, the longer she will remain in her cell.
Besides, she can’t possibly get all the Muntinlupa judges to recuse themselves from hearing her case. There will still be judges who won’t inhibit themselves despite Leila’s delaying tactics.
There are two more cases of conspiracy in drug trading against her, and the Court of Appeals (CA) may even junk her appeal to stop the prisoners from testifying against her.
Chances are high that she knows she would be convicted once the testimonies from these prisoners are heard. But it is not just the Bilibid prisoners who can pin her down. Even the former Bureau of Corrections chief, who is not a convicted felon, can testify against Leila, too. His earlier testimony before the House of Representatives’ hearing on De Lima allegedly having received drug money from the prisoners that was personally delivered to her can testify against her. So, can her former lover and driver, whose testimony can be pretty damning as he also was handed millions by Kerwin Espinosa, an alleged drug lord.
What was denied her by Judge Domingo by way of allowing the prisoners to testify against the senator, she again raised to the appellate court.
In her petition for certiorari and prohibition, Leila wants the CA to issue a halt or temporary restraining order against the order of the Muntinlupa judge who had earlier inhibited from the case from allowing convicts to testify in the government’s drug case against her.
The detained senator also wants the appellate justices to nullify Judge Domingo’s order who had junked her plea and subsequent appeal to disqualify prosecution witnesses and bar them from testifying in the trial.
She insists that the prisoners who have been tapped by the Department of Justice (DoJ) secretaries, former and present, and who were made state witnesses and granted immunity, are barred by law from testifying since they are convicted criminals. They are seen as “common witnesses” by the DoJ as they are not state witnesses.
If memory serves correctly, these same prisoners were granted legislative immunity and there were no complaints from Leila.
Ironically, when she was the yellow president’s Justice chief, De Lima had a certified perjurer testify before the Senate whom she had obviously coached to frame the three opposition senators, all of whom were seen by the yellow president as his political foes, and all of whom were sent to jail, and this perjurer, who had clearly got the money he claims was received by the senators by way of kickbacks, was granted full immunity by both Leila, the courts and, of course, the yellow Ombudsman, Conchita Carpio-Morales.
They also gave unsavory characters and known and coached perjurers, who stood as witnesses against the political foes of the yellow president, immunity and state witness status.
Leila may or may not win her appeal before the CA. But one thing is sure: to delay her trial further, if the appellate court denies her appeal, she will go all the way to the High Court that may rule against her as it did the first time around.
If justice is to be done in the drug case against Leila, these prisoners should be allowed to testify against her.
It should always be recalled that Sammy the Bull Gravano, a former underboss of the Gambino crime family, testified against his gangster boss, John Gotti whose testimony finally brought Gotti down.