MANILA - The Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) on Friday reset the first hearing on the disobedience to summons case against Sen. Leila de Lima, moving the proceedings to next month.
The QC MTC Branch 34 reset De Lima's trial to July 14 after the defense panel contested amendments that the prosecution had made on Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Rep. Rey Umali's judicial affidavit against the senator.
Umali was supposed to be the first witness to testify Friday against De Lima on the case filed against her for advising her former driver and lover Ronnie Dayan against attending congressional inquiries into her alleged involvement in the drug trade.
But De Lima's lawyer Teddy Rigoroso questioned the "corrections" on the judicial affidavit as well as the prosecution's failure to furnish the defense copies of supposed amendments on time.
The judicial affidavit was supposed to be Umali's direct testimony on the case. The amendment filed by the prosecution involved a correction of a typographical error in the affidavit.
Question 27 on Umali's affidavit stated that an order for the arrest of Ronnie Dayan was shown.
"Q27: Showing to you the Order for the arrest of Mr. Dayan, is this the same document you are referring to?
Answer27: Yes, here Sir."
However, only an Order of Contempt issued by the congress against Dayan- who had then refused to obey summons- was attached with the affidavit.
Rigoroso questioned the prosecution's failure to obey court rules on the judicial affidavit, which states that documents should have been filed at least five days prior to a hearing.
The prosecution filed the amendment on Monday, four days before the scheduled proceedings. A copy was furnished De Lima on Tuesday, and Rigoroso only received his copy at 1:40 p.m. Friday, 20 minutes before the hearing.
Rigoroso even pointed out that the failure to submit the affidavit was tantamount to Umali's waiver to testify.
The court will settle the defense's opposition to the amendment before proceedings could continue.
Meanwhile, supporters of De Lima gathered outside the court to show their support for the embattled senator.
De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center since Feb. 24 as she faced a separate trial on drug charges at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court. She has decried the allegations as political persecution.