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Court denies De Lima's bid to disqualify 13 witnesses.

By Jonathan Hicap

A Muntinlupa court has denied the request of the camp of detained Sen. Leila de Lima to disqualify 13 prisoners as prosecution witnesses in her trial on charges of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.

The prisoners, according to the defense, were "convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude," a ground that disqualifies them to be state witnesses at the trial based on Section 10 of Republic Act 6981 or the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Act.

De Lima's camp identified them as Nonilo Arile; Jojo Baligad, Herbert Colanggo, Engelberto Durano, Rodolfo Magleo, Vicente Sy, Hans Tan, Froilan Trestiza, Peter Co, Noel Martinez, Joel Capones, German Agojo and Jaime Patcho, who are all serving sentences of reclusion perpetua at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa.

Government prosecutors opposed the motion, saying the prisoners are not accused in the case.

In a decision in case 17-167, Acting Presiding Judge Lorna Navarro-Domingo of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206 junked the motion, citing Section 20 under Rule 130 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, which states that "all persons who can perceive, and perceiving, can make their known perception to others, may be witnesses.

Religious or political belief, interest in the outcome of the case, or conviction of a crime unless otherwise provided by law, shall not be ground for disqualification."

Navarro-Domingo said that the only basis for the disqualification of witnesses in the drug case are by reasons of mental incapacity or immaturity and privileged communication.

CAPTION(S):

Senator Leila De Lima

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Title Annotation:National
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Sep 25, 2018
Words:256
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