De Lima refuses to enter plea over 'disobedience to summons' case

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Senator Leila De Lima refused to enter a plea on Monday over the "disobedience to summons" case filed against her.

The court entered a 'not guilty' plea on her behalf.

"Tuloy po ang laban ko kasi inosente po ako. Lahat ng kaso na finille po nila sa akin, panggigipit lang po 'yan," de Lima said in an ambush interview after the hearing.

[Translation: We will continue this fight because I am innocent. All of the cases filed against me are mere harrassment.]

"Sana po pagbigyan ng Supreme Court ang kahilingan ko, na mapalaya po ako," she added.

[Translation: I hope the Supreme Court fulfills my wish to be set free.]

The Department of Justice filed the case with the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court on December 21, 2016 against De Lima, who advised her former driver-bodyguard, Ronnie Dayan, to snub summons to attend the House of Representatives' investigation into the alleged  drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.

The charge stemmed from the complaint filed by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Representative Rey Umali on December 13, 2016.

 

The lawmakers said De Lima's action was a violation of Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code or disobedience to summons.

Atty. Philip Sawali, Senator de Lima's chief-of-staff, however said that De Lima did not induce or pressure Dayan into snubbing the summons.

"Base mismo sa complaint, base mismo sa house hearing..., sa transcript, ay humingi ng opinyon si Ginoong Ronnie Dayan, at ang opinyon ay 'Maaari bang 'wag ka na munang pumunta doon, dahil hihiyain lang tayo parehas diyan?' 'Yun po ay opinyon," Sawali said.

[Translation: Based on the complaints, house hearing transcript, Mr. Ronnie Dayan was asking for an opinion. And [De Lima's] opinion was, "Would it be okay that you don't show up, because we'll both be humiliated there?" That's an opinion.]

De Lima earlier admitted to "advising" Dayan to hide, but she did not order him to skip the hearings.

Related: Dayan: De Lima urged me to skip probe, hide

Asked if Dayan would be called on to testify on De Lima's behalf, Sawali said that it's all up to the senator.

De Lima's legal counsel filed a motion for reconsideration on March 10 but this was denied because it missed the March 9 deadline.

The next hearing is scheduled on April 26, and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is ordered to testify against the senator.

The senator has been detained without bail at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center since February 24, 2017.

Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 Judge Juanita Guerrero ordered De Lima's arrest after she cited probable cause for charges against the senator.

She was accused of abetting illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison while she was Justice secretary from 2010 to 2015.

CNN Philippines correspondent Rex Remitio contributed to this report.