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Judge, De Lima lawyer at loggerheads over basis of arrest warrant

/ 10:41 AM February 24, 2017

The Judge and the lawyer of Senator Leila De Lima got into a heated argument over the question of whether the warrant for her arrest was premature or not.

During Friday hearing, Executive Judge Juanita T. Guerrero, the Presiding Judge of Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 explained that she has to acquire jurisdiction over De Lima before she could resolve her motion to quash.

Thus, she said she made a judicial determination of probable cause to determine if there is a basis to issue a warrant for her arrest.

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But De Lima’s lawyer, Teddy Rigoroso maintained that there is not enough evidence to prove the allegation of illegal drug trade. He added that the motions to quash, judicial determination of probable cause has to be resolved first by the court.

Calling the arrest warrant premature, he said what the court did was “hindi tama (wrong).”

“Hindi tama? ‘Yun ang sabi mo. Ako, ako ang tama. Meron naman CA at SC [Wrong? That’s you. Me, I am right. Anyway there is the CA and SC [referring to the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court to appeal her order],” Judge Guerrero said.

READ: What Went Before: RTC Judge Juanita Guerrero

“Under the Constitution, the Judge is required to personally go over the records of the case before determining whether to issue a warrant of arrest or not,” Rigoroso said.

The Judge then asked her staff for the records of the case and said “oo nagbakasyon ako pero Wednesday and Thursday pinagaralan ko ‘to (it’s true I just got back from vacation but I studied the records of the case Wednesday and Thursday.”

She added that what she did was a judicial determination of probable cause to only determine if there is a basis for issuing a warrant for her arrest, not determining if there is beyond reasonable doubt to determine the guilt of the accused.

“I will rule on your motion to quash,” she said, adding that she is doing what is mandated to her by law.

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“But my client is already incarcerated,” Rigoroso said to which the Judge said “I have yet to receive the return of the warrant.”

A return of the warrant is basically a report from the arresting officers that they already have the accused in their custody.

The Court gave the panel of prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) within 10 days to comment on De Lima’s motion to quash and her co-accused Rafael Ragos’ ex-parte motion and then once the comments are submitted, the case will be up for resolution.

In her motion to quash, De Lima asked the court to nullify the Information (charge sheet) filed by the DOJ for lack of jurisdiction. She insisted that the Ombudsman, not the DOJ, has exclusive jurisdiction over her.

Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 Judge Juanita T. Guerrero is handling Criminal Case No. 17-165. In this case, aside from De Lima, her co-accused include former driver and boyfriend Ronnie Dayan and former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge and National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director Rafael Ragos. Dayan was alleged as her bagman while Ragos confessed that they have delivered millions to De Lima’s house.

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TAGS: arrest order, arrest warrant, Juanita T. Guerrero, Leila de Lima, Teddy Rigoroso
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