Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Court denies De Lima’s bid to disqualify 13 witnesses




Senator Leila De Lima / Photo from philstar.com
Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 206 on Monday, denied Senator Leila De Lima’s bid to disqualify 13 convicts from testifying for the government, her alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.

Judge Lorna Navarro Domingo scrapped the former Senator’s motion to disqualify these 13 Prosecution Witnesses for having been “devoid of merit”.


De Lima earlier pursued the disqualification of such witnesses who are all serving sentences of Reclusion Perpetua at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa for being convicted with “moral turpitude”, primarily such as violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act, homicide, murder and robbery.
Senator Leila De Lima / Photo from CNN Philippines
To her defense, De Lima’s lawyers asserted that the following witnesses should be disqualified, citing Republic Act No. 6981 or the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act, due to the following crimes:

·Nonilo Arile - Murder and kidnapping

·Jojo Baligad - Murder

·Herbert Colangco - Robbery with homicide

·Engelberto Durano - Frustrated murder and murder

·Rodolfo Magleo - Kidnapping for ransom

·Vicente Sy - Illegal sale and delivery of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu)

·Hans Tan - Robbery and direct assault with murder

·Froilan Trestiza - Kidnapping

·Peter Co - Illegal sale and delivery of shabu

·Noel Martinez - Kidnapping for ransom

·Joel Capones - Homicide

·German Agojo - Illegal sale and delivery of shabu

·Jaime Patcho - Kidnapping for ransom

Siding with the Prosecution, Judge Domingo however, argued and maintained that the convicted individuals are not solely accused in a scheme to pursue the illegal drug trading case against the detained Senator.
Senator Leila De Lima / Photo from GMA Network
Judge Domingo also cited a court rule, stating that “all persons who can perceive, and perceiving, can make known their perception to others, may be witnesses."

Citing Rule 130, Section 20 of the Rules of Evidence, Judge Domingo’s ruling to De Lima said, "Religious or political belief, interest in the outcome of the case, or conviction of a crime unless otherwise provided by law, shall not be ground for disqualification."

“Mental incapacity or immaturity and privileged communication, meanwhile, can be grounds for witness disqualification,” the ruling added.

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Source:  news.mb.com.ph