DOJ plea to consolidate De Lima cases denied
The Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) has denied the motion of the Department of Justice to consolidate three criminal cases filed against Sen. Leila de Lima.
In a two-page order dated March 30, Judge Juanita Guerrero of RTC Branch 204 said the court finds no merit to consolidate the cases in RTC 204, 205 and 206.
“The court finds no merit to consolidate the three aforementioned cases to one court because the accused… are different and cases involve difference incidents,” Guerrero said.
She said consolidation of the cases would lead to prolonged trial.
De Lima is facing three charges in relation to her alleged collusion with inmates and protection of the illegal drugs trade at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa in exchange for money during her time as justice secretary of the Aquino administration.
She is accused of violating Section 5 of the Dangerous Drugs Act that prohibits the sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of illegal drugs.
The Muntinlupa City RTC had raffled off the cases to Branches 204, 205 and 206 but the DOJ noted that the cases against De Lima arose from a similar set of facts and that there were common parties and issues.
“Thus, the three cases may be tried jointly by one branch of the Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa City pursuant to Rule 119, Section 22, of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure,” the motion read.
Senior State Prosecutor Peter Ong, head of the prosecution panel, said they have already filed a motion for consideration for the consolidation of the three cases.
However, De Lima’s lawyer Filibon Tacardon said they would oppose any move to consolidate the cases.
“The consolidation of the cases will violate the rights of Senator De Lima to speedy trial,” he said.