Senator Leila De Lima turned to the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday in hopes of securing a ruling that would nullify her arrest last week over drug charges. Current top breaking Philippine headlines regarding the nation, world, metro manila, regions and exclusive special investigative reports.
Published February 27, 2017 11:23am
By VIRGIL LOPEZ, GMA News
Senator Leila De Lima turned to the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday in hopes of securing a ruling that would nullify her arrest last week over drug charges.
De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame since Friday over allegations that she tolerated the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison during her term as justice secretary in exchange for campaign funds in her Senate run last year.
The senator has repeatedly denied the charges as she challenged her arrest ordered by Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 on February 23.
Guerrero issued the order after finding “sufficient probable cause” on the case filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). De Lima also has pending drug trading cases before the Muntinlupa RTC Branches 205 and 206.
In her petition, De Lima asked the SC to set aside the arrest warrant, stop the judge from conducting further proceedings, and issue a status quo ante order aimed at restoring the status prior to the issuance of arrest warrant.
The senator said Guerrero “acted with undue haste and inordinate interest” as the court has yet to resolve her motion to quash that was supposed to be heard on February 24, a day after the arrest order was issued.
“Haste, when unduly applied in the context of the criminal justice system, such that it constitutes a blatant failure to respect and uphold a person’s fundamental rights, and to observe the guarantees enshrined in the Constitution to protect the rights of the accused, it results in something far more destructive, more pestilent and graver than mere imperfection,” the petition stated.
It added that only the Sandiganbayan–not the Regional Trial Court–has jurisdiction over the offense she was accused to have allegedly committed when she was justice secretary during the Aquino administration.
“The issuance of a warrant of arrest by a court that has no jurisdiction over the case makes such warrant obviously and patently without null and without basis, thus making Senator De Lima’s detention on the basis thereof illegal,” said De Lima’s counsel, Alexander Padilla.
The DOJ alleged that De Lima received around P10 million in drug payoffs from November 2012 to early 2013 through her co-accused, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos.
Ragos said he delivered, along with aide Jovencio Ablen Jr., the money to De Lima’s house in Parañaque City.
The money was allegedly received by De Lima’s former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, also a co-accused in the non-bailable case for violations of Section 5 and Section 28 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
The senator’s camp said the evidence submitted by the DOJ did not show that any crime was actually committed and the evidence of the crime of illegal drug trade was not established.
“Without allegations, much less proof, of actual selling and trafficking, the prosecution likewise failed to establish that the amounts allegedly given to the accused were derived from the illegal drug trade, or that they were actually received by the accused, especially given that they failed to establish that the bank accounts belong to the accused,” the petition stated.
“Furthermore, there is also no showing of the existence of any buyer in the illegal drug trade, given that the evidence on record only provides that the NBP inmates provided money to the accused through her intermediaries. Again, another essential element is missing,” it added.
Named respondents to the petition were Guerrero, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, PNP Headquarters Support Service director Superintendent Phillip Gil Phillips, PNP Custodial Service Unit chief Superintendent Arnel Jamandron Apud and all other persons acting under their control and supervision in relation to the orders that may be issued by the court.
De Lima’s political allies and human rights groups denounced her arrest allegedly meant to silence criticisms of the Duterte administration’s deadly war on drugs.
Warrants for the arrest of Ragos and De Lima’s former driver Ronnie Dayan were also issued by the same Muntinlupa court.
Ragos is under the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation while Dayan is detained at the Muntinlupa City Police Station. —ALG, GMA News
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