De Lima seeks inhibition of Muntinlupa court judge over alleged bias

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2021 02:35 PM

De Lima seeks inhibition of Muntinlupa court judge over alleged bias 1
Sen. Leila De Lima attends her hearing at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court on Friday, June 22, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Thursday sought the inhibition of a Muntinlupa court judge for allegedly prejudging her drug-related case and showing bias against her.

Judge Leizel Aquiatan of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 had acquitted the senator in one of her 3 drug cases but denied her demurrer, or a motion to dismiss the case for insufficient evidence, in another.

The senator's counsels said Aquiatan "clearly exhibited that she is biased" against De Lima as showed in the "blatant errors" in her recent orders.

"As she should already very well know, the Honorable Presiding Judge has ignored and/or refused to apply settled jurisprudence and the applicable law and procedure in her recent orders in this case," the 49-page motion for voluntary inhibition read.

"Given the compelling and self-evident evidence on record which she chose to ignore, the honorable presiding judge has provided the impression that she has prejudged the case and is therefore incapable of dispensing justice with neither fear nor favor."

The senator's lawyers alleged that Aquiatan has been "adding up her own versions of the narrative which were never even testified on by the incredible witnesses she chose to believe."

"As a manifestation of her bias, she raised irrelevant matters just to cast accused De Lima in a negative light, and to burden her with the duty of proving her innocence, where the very elements of the crime or the participation of the accused in its alleged commission were never established," it said.

The judge wrongfully applied legal principles "just to accommodate inadmissible evidence and the unsound theory of the Prosecution," the senator's lawyers said. "It is disappointing that the Honorable Presiding Judge chose to do legal calisthenics and even bent over backwards just to make the Prosecution’s a) legal theory on conspiracy to commit drug trading possible, and b) hearsay evidence admissible," they said.

The judge also gave "wholesale credence to questionable and incredible testimonies without even considering material points raised by the Defense," they added.

De Lima, a vocal administration critic, has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center since February 2017. She has decried her cases as political persecution and denied any wrongdoing.

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