De Lima asks judge to inhibit from her illegal drug case

PHILSTAR

ONE OF President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s staunchest critics who was jailed on drug trafficking charges has asked a Muntinlupa judge to inhibit from her case, citing bias.

In a 49-page motion, Senator Leila M. de Lima also accused Judge Liezel A. Aquiatan of committing “blatant errors” in her recent orders.

The magistrate in February rejected the lawmaker’s plea to dismiss the case for lack of evidence.

Ms. Aquiatan disregarded the fact that “there was no evidence offered to prove the drug traded, its quantity, the identity of the buyer and seller, and the consideration of the illegal drug sale,” Ms. De Lima said.

She also accused Ms. Aquiatan of validating inadmissible evidence presented by government prosecutors, cherry-picking parts of the testimonies by witnesses and disregarding the testimonies of defense witnesses.

The judge had also added “her own versions of the narrative which were never even testified on by the incredible witnesses she chose to believe,” the senator said.

Ms. Aquiatan earlier said the evidence of Ms. De Lima’s guilt was strong.

Ms. De Lima is on trial for allegedly abetting the illegal drug trade in the country’s jails when she was still Justice secretary. She was accused of extorting millions of pesos from a drug lord that she allegedly used to finance her senatorial campaign in 2016.

She has been jailed at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame since February 2017. Several witnesses against Ms. De Lima were drug convicts serving time at the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City. — Bianca Angelica D. Anago