By Marita Moaje

Former Senator Leila de Lima (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The acquittal of former senator Leila de Lima on drug charges is a testament to the fairness and efficiency of the Philippines’ criminal justice system under the Marcos administration, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Wednesday.

“This court ruling is a proof of the country’s working justice system under the Bagong Pilipinas governance,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a statement.

The DOJ chief also hoped that the conclusion of these proceedings “allow healing and the continuation of constructive dialogue on matters of justice and human rights”, as he also recognized the profound impact of the long legal battle on de Lima, her family and supporters.

“The rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are fundamental principles that underpin democratic governance and the protection of human rights highly prioritized under the Bagong Pilipinas brand of governance,” Remulla said.

On Monday, the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 206 dismissed the third and final drug case against de Lima after her demurrer to evidence was granted.

The decision cleared the former senator of conspiracy to commit drug trading charges and set her free after seven years of detention.

Branch 206 presiding judge Gener Gito also cleared De Lima’s 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.

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

De Lima was detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City from February 2017 until she was granted bail in November last year. (PNA)