Murder, kidnap, drug convicts as state witnesses
MANILA - The camp of Senator Leila de Lima on Monday moved for the disqualification of 13 prosecution witnesses in the “conspiracy to trade illegal drugs” case filed against her before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206.
In an 8-page motion copy obtained exclusively by ABS-CBN News, De Lima’s legal counsel Teddy Esteban Rigoroso argued that 13 of the prosecution’s witnesses have all been convicted of crimes involving "moral turpitude" and are currently serving the penalty of reclusion perpetua, making them unfit to be admitted as state witnesses.
According to the motion, Republic Act No. 6981 or Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act requires that a state witness "has not at any time been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude."
Based on cases decided by the Supreme Court, moral turpitude refers to “an act of baseness, vileness or depravity” that “gravely violates moral sentiment or accepted moral standards of the community…”
Named in the motion were:
- Nonilo Arile, convicted for murder and kidnapping
- Jojo Baligad, convicted for murder
- Herbert Colanggo, convicted for robbery with homicide
- Engelberto Durano, convicted for frustrated murder and murder
- Rodolfo Magleo, convicted for kidnapping for ransom
- Vicente Sy, convicted for illegal sale and delivery of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu)
- Hans Tan, convicted for robbery and direct assault with murder
- Froilan Trestiza, convicted for kidnapping
- Peter Co, convicted for illegal sale and delivery of methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu)
- Noel Martinez, convicted for kidnapping for ransom
- Joel Capones, convicted for homicide
- German Agojo, convicted for illegal sale and delivery of
methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu)
- Jaime Patcho, convicted for kidnapping for ransom
“The above-enumerated State Witnesses of the Prosecution have all been already convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude. They are therefore disqualified from being State Witnesses and from being granted immunity under Sections 10 and 12 of RA 6981. Their exclusion from the information is therefore illegal and without basis. Even if they testify, they cannot avail of the immunity that was grated illegally and that is void ab initio,” the motion said.
PROSECUTORS CHANGE LIST OF WITNESSES
In a separate motion in the same case, De Lima’s camp also questioned why the DOJ panel of prosecutors, through a manifestation, changed the list of its witnesses it previously provided to the court during the pretrial conference.
“A perusal of the Manifestation revealed that the Panel sought for the amendment of the list of witnesses that they shall present before the Honorable Court. They explained that during the Pre-Trial Conference on 27 July 2018, the Panel merely provided a random list of witnesses,” the motion said.
“The Panel is not upfront with the document that they have filed before the Honorable Court because the Manifestation is in truth a Motion to Amend the Pre-Trial Order coupled with a Motion to Hold Trial in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP),” it added.
It further argued that since the manifestation is in effect a motion, it lacked the formal requirements for a motion, such as the inclusion of a notice of hearing.
Thus, De Lima’s camp moved to expunge the manifestation filed by the prosecution.
De Lima’s camp also accused the prosecution of violating the due process of the accused senator, particularly her right to confront witnesses against her, for initially providing a different list on which she based her preparations for trial.
This is not the first time the senator complained to the court about changes in the case against her.
Her camp previously moved to quash the complaint after the prosecution changed the charge against her from “illegal drug trading” to “conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.” The court denied the motion.
De Lima’s co-accused in this case are her alleged bagman and former lover Ronnie Dayan, former Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Bucayu and his alleged bagman Wildredo Elli, De Lima’s former aide Joenel Sanchez, high profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian, and Jose Adrian Dera.