Government prosecutors asked the Muntinlupa City regional trial court (RTC) on Friday (Dec. 4) to have detained Senator Leila De Lima and her legal counsel, lawyer Filebon Tacardon, cited for contempt and punished for making public the proceedings of the lawmaker’s drug cases.
“By making the subject statements, both respondents Atty. Filibon Fabela Tacardon and Leila M. de Lima committed a violation of the sub judice rule,” read the petition filed by government prosecutors.
They explained the sub judice rule “rule restricts comments and disclosures pertaining to judicial proceedings to avoid prejudging the issue, influencing the court, or obstructing the administration of justice.”
“It signifies that the same case, legal matter or controversy has come under the jurisdiction of a court (sub judice), and nobody, including the press and other media should interfere by publication or public clamor with the court’s proper handling of the proceeding,” prosecutors pointed out.
They reminded the RTC that both De Lima and Tacardon are still bound by the Code of Professional Responsibility which states: “A lawyer shall not make public statements in the media regarding a pending case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party.”
“Not only that respondents Atty. Tacardon and Senator Leila M. De Lima continue to disavow the sub judice rule, they took advantage of the mainstream media to publish the pronouncements intended to disinform or misinform the general public of the merits of the cases to the detriment of finding out the truth in each and every case,” they said.
“This is an obvious attempt of respondents to condition the minds of the public and affect the Court in finally deciding on the criminal liability of the accused in its decision to these cases,” they added.
Prosecutors stressed that “the Court must be protected from any attempt to pressure it into acting one way or the other in any case pending before it and to proceed to the disposition of its business in an orderly manner, free from outside interference obstructive of its functions and tending to embarrass the administration of justice.”
“Their criminal intent to impede, obstruct or degrade, and embarrass the administration of justice is apparent and palpable when they publicly declared and pronounced the subject contemptuous press statements, and in violation of the sub judice rule,” they declared.
De Lima is facing drug charges before the Muntinlupa RTC over her alleged involvement in the narcotics trading in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
She currently detained at the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.