Muntinlupa RTC defers arraignment of De Lima

MANILA -- Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 206 on Friday deferred the arraignment of drug cases filed against Senator Leila De Lima in connection with her alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

The deferment of the arraignment is due to the motions filed by both parties.

The Department of Justice filed a motion amending the Information regarding the illegal drug trading charge filed against the senator.

The motion seeks to revise the charge against de Lima and her co-accused from illegal drug trading to conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ramoncito Ocampo assured: the evidence that the prosecution will suppose to offer under the original information will also be the same set of evidence that will be offered in the amended information.

Neither it will alter the theory of the prosecution which stands in the original information, he pointed out.

He explained there is a need to amend the information of the charges against her all to be more precise and to conform with the evidence in the allegation in the complaint.

He assured the legal rights of the detained senator was not trampled as it sought amendments in the rap sheets of the drug charges against her.

It will not in any way prejudice the rights of the accused, said Ocampo.

De Lima's counsel Atty. Bonnie Tacardon said the prosecution's changing of the Information is confusing and just goes to show that the case against the senator is weak.

Tacardon said they will study the information filed by the prosecution which says inmates of the New Bilibid Prison were used to sell illegal drugs.

De Lima's camp asked the court to recall the arrest warrant against her.

Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206 Judge Patria Manalastas-De Leon gave both the prosecution and defense 15 days to comment on the fresh pleadings.

No new date for the arraignment has been set yet for De Lima, who appeared at the hearing on Friday, and her co-accused former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) director Franklin Bucayu, former aides Joenel Sanchez and Ronnie Dayan, Wilfredo Elli, high profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian, and Jose Adrian Dera.

De Lima is currently detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Source: Philippine News Agency