By Marita Moaje

Former Senator Leila de Lima (PNA file photo)

MANILA – Former senator Leila de Lima has been cleared of her final illegal drugs-related case, one of three which put her under detention for more than six years.

The Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 206 on Monday dismissed De Lima’s conspiracy to commit drug trading case for failure of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Branch 206 presiding judge Gener Gito granted De Lima’s demurrer to evidence and likewise cleared co-accused former Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Bucayu, the ex-lawmaker’s former bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, and former aides Joenel Sanchez and Jad Dera.

“Assessing the totality of the evidence presented by the prosecution, the Court is of the firm resolve and so holds that the prosecution was not able to prove the guilt of all accused beyond a reasonable doubt,” the court said.

The prosecution will file a motion for reconsideration.

De Lima’s camp filed the demurrer in March, asking the court to acquit her due to the prosecution’s failure to prove her involvement in illegal drugs trading.

De Lima was cleared of her first case in February 2021 by Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205 and the second case by Branch 204 last year.

A Quezon City court likewise junked her two disobedience cases, filed in 2017 by Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, who was House Speaker then, and ex-congressmen Rodolfo Fariñas (Ilocos Norte) and the late Reynaldo Umali (Oriental Mindoro).

She was detained at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City from February 2017 until she was granted bail in November last year.

Justice based on truth

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the dismissal of De Lima’s remaining drug case proved that justice is based on truth and evidence, “not on baseless charges and political motivations.”

“She has faced public ridicule and injustices, yet she remained steadfast in her commitment to truth and justice,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

Hontiveros called on authorities to pursue and hold accountable those who perpetuated “unfounded allegations” against the former Justice secretary.

“But we need to focus our attention on those who have wrongly accused her. False charges compromise not only the accused’s reputation but also the integrity of our legal system,” Hontiveros said.

“Justice must be served, and those who have wronged her and our legal system must face the consequences of their actions,” she added.

European Union (EU) Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron lauded the Muntinlupa court’s decision.

“I share the joy of Atty. Leila de Lima and her co-defendants who were cleared of all charges today by the Muntinlupa City Court,” Veron said in a post over X. “After so many years, this is a victory for justice!”

He added that the EU “applauds and stands alongside this verdict for justice and human rights.” (With reports from Leonel Abasola, Ma. Teresa Montemayor/PNA)