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De Lima asks Muntinlupa court to cite Colangco, Topacio in contempt for TV interview – Manila Bulletin

Detained former senator Leila de Lima asked a Muntinlupa court to cite Herbert Colangco, a person deprived of liberty and prosecution witness, and his lawyer Ferdinand Topacio for indirect contempt for a TV interview, saying it can affect her case. 

Leila de Lima at the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice in 2019 (Jonathan Hicap)

On July 8, De Lima filed before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 256, which is handling one of her remaining two drug cases, a petition to cite for indirect contempt against Colangco and Topacio. 

The case stemmed from a TV interview Colangco gave to GMA News on June 13 before he testified in case 17-167 under Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256, which was filed by the Department of Justice against De Lima in February 2017, accusing her of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading during her time as justice secretary. 

In the GMA News interview, Colangco said, “Kahit sino ka diyang Poncio Pilato mag-aano hindi ako pwede, bakit magrecant po ako, ito ang katotohanan, hawak ko, hindi ko ipagpapalit sa kasinungalingan (Even if you are a Pontius Pilate, I am not available, why would I recant, this is the truth I am holding, I will not exchange for lies).” 

The petition stated that according to GMA News reporter John Consulta, Colangco said that there is a group talking to the witnesses in the case of De Lima to weaken it. 

De Lima also cited other videos and interviews by Colangco pertaining to case 17-167. 

“In all his interviews and recordings, Respondent Colangco maliciously claimed that his life was being threatened by Petitioner despite the latter’s preventive incarceration at the PNP Custodial Center, Camp Crame. Furthermore, he released his video and provided live and on-camera interviews without the prior approval of the Department of Justice. Despite these claims, nothing on record shows that he has filed any Motion or pleading for any judicial or administrative remedies to address his concern,” according to De Lima. 

According to the former senator, “Respondent Colangco committed indirect contempt of the Honorable Court in conducting the GMA and [Nino] Barzaga interviews and making a public video, which constitute improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice.” 

“Respondents committed indirect contempt of the Honorable Court when they used its subpoena issued to Respondent Colangco to circumvent the DOJ prohibition against Colangco, a high-profile convict serving a prison sentence from conducting media interviews, which constitutes an abuse of the processes of the Honorable Court,” according to De Lima. 

She added, “Respondent Topacio committed indirect contempt of the Honorable Court when he knowingly. allowed his client to be interviewed by GMA News on sub judice matters that tended to obstruct the administration of justice.”

De Lima also asked the court to order Colangco and Topacio “to cease and desist from issuing any other unlawful and sub judice statements in relation to Criminal Case No. 17-167.”

 

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