De Lima asks SC Justice Velasco to inhibit in release plea

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2017 05:01 PM

Detained Sen. Leila De Lima waves from a police van after appearing at the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court for her drug cases. Erik de Castro, Reuters

MANILA - Citing conflict of interest, detained Sen. Leila de Lima has sought the inhibition of Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. from deliberations on her petition against her arrest and detention over drug charges.

In a motion filed Thursday, De Lima said Velasco is "unfit to decide" on the pleading as he had allegedly favored one of the witnesses against her in a case the High Court handled eight years ago. 

She was referring to the 2009 decision that upheld the drug conviction of German Agojo, among New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmates who testified on De Lima's alleged drug links before the House of Representatives last year.

Quoting an investigative report, De Lima alleged that Velasco initially pushed for Agojo's acquittal on his appeal of his drug conviction but was blocked by Associate Justice Arturo Brion.

Velasco, the sole justice in the handling division who sided with Agojo, eventually joined the other justices in upholding his conviction after an "intense discussion" with Brion. 

"The inordinate link and actuations of Justice Velasco with regard to German Agojo will significantly taint the credibility of the impending decision of the Honorable Supreme Court if he is to participate in the deliberations of the instant case and permitted to signify his position accordingly," De Lima said in her motion.

De Lima added that, according to the report, Velasco leaked to Agojo details on the deliberations on the case.

The said incident allegedly resulted in Velasco's transfer to a different division in the Supreme Court.

De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City since February on drug charges stemming from her alleged involvement in the illegal trade inside the national penitentiary during her time as Justice Secretary.

Last month, Agojo submitted an affidavit saying he was ordered to sell illegal drugs to fund De Lima's senatorial bid. 

De Lima, among the administration's fiercest critics, has repeatedly denied the allegations, calling it political persecution.

Read De Lima's pleading here: