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De Lima seeks TRO on presentation of convict-witnesses

DEFIANT Sen. Leila de Lima tells reporters it is time to unseat President Duterte, describing him as the country’s top criminal. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Sen. Leila de Lima. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

Senator Leila de Lima has filed a petition before the Court of Appeals (CA) to stop prosecutors from presenting convicts as witnesses.

In a petition last November 19, De Lima sought a temporary restraining order on Judge Lorna Navarro-Domingo of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206 from hearing the convicts’ testimonies.

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If De Lima’s request is granted by CA, the prosecution would not be able to present 13 witnesses, and Navarro-Domingo could not allow them to testify on grounds that they had been convicted of certain crimes.

While Section 20 of Rule 130 of the Rules of Court qualifies people convicted to testify before the court, the senator believes it is illegal under R.A. 6981 or the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.

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According to Section 10 (f) of R.A. 6981, convicted criminals can be admitted into the Witness Protection Program provided that they had “not at any time been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.”

De Lima said that witnesses German Agojo, Nonilo Arile, Jojo Baligad, Joel Capones, Peter Co, Herbert Colanggo, Engelberto Durano, Rodolgfo Magleo, Noel Martinez, Jaime Patcho, Vicente Sy, Hans Tan, and Froilan Trestiza committed crimes involving moral turpitude.

She cited the case of Basa and Zari vs. Flores, where the Supreme Court cited crimes that involved moral turpitude as robbery, murder, homicide, and violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Agojo, Co, and Sy are serving sentences for drug-related cases; Arile, Baligad, Capones, Durano were convicted for either murder or homicide.

Colanggo is in prison for robbery with homicide, while Tan was sentenced for robbery and murder.  Magleo, Martinez, Patcho, Trestiza, and Arile are serving life sentences for kidnapping.

De Lima is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame on charges stemming from her alleged involvement the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison, when she was the Justice secretary.

She has claimed that the charges were merely an attack against her for being critical of President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration. /cbb

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