Who’s not afraid of Sen. Leila de Lima? Ask the judge

ANOTHER trial court has decided to recuse herself from the illegal-drugs case filed against detained Sen. Leila de Lima in connection with her alleged involvement in the illegal-drugs operations inside the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP) during her term as secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

In a five-page resolution, Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa City Branch 206 Acting Presiding Judge Lorna Navarro-Domingo said that de Lima’s camp failed to raise sufficient grounds to warrant her inhibition.

But Navarro said she decided to abandon the case “in order to show good faith to all parties concerned.”

She added that it is also within her discretionary power to decide whether to proceed with the case or grant the inhibition.

In her motion seeking Judge Domingo’s inhibition, de Lima accused the judge of prematurely ruling on her notion to disqualify prosecution witnesses, despite her order giving the senator five days to file her reply to the prosecution’s comment.

“There is no mistake to correct. So the court merely reiterated the order dated September 24, 2018,” the resolution read.

Domingo was referring to her previous ruling that junked de Lima’s plea on prosecution’s witnesses.

De Lima also accused Domingo of showing manifest bias and partiality against the accused when she disallowed questions propounded by her counsel to a prosecution witness intended to impeach his credibility on the grounds recognized and allowed by the rules.

But the judge said the cross examination of the defense counsel was allowed by the court except those that were not taken up during the direct examination.

The senator also raised that the judge barred members of the media from covering the trial.

While media men were barred from covering the trial, the judge said, other parties, including foreign observers, were allowed to watch the proceedings.

“Only media men were not allowed inside the courtroom to cover the proceedings since it would distract the parties, as well as the lawyers inside. The court observes subjudice rule,” the judge pointed out.

Domingo is already the fourth judge to inhibit from the cases filed against de Lima.

Judge Patria Manalastas-de Leon, also of Muntinlupa Branch’s 206, opted for early retirement last February, while Judges Antonietta-Medina, Juanita Guerrero and Myra Bayot-Quiambao from other courts also inhibited from the de Lima cases.

The senator has been detained since February last year after being charged by the DOJ with conspiracy to commit illegal-drugs trading.

 

 

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A UST journalism graduate, has been working as a reporter for more than 20 years.

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