SolGen: It’s ironic De Lima seeks help from SC which she defied
Government lawyers on Friday said it was quite ironic that Sen. Leila De Lima would now go up to the Supreme Court for help when she had defied it a few years back.
Solicitor General Jose Calida was referring to the incident when De Lima stopped former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, now Pampanga representative, from leaving the country despite a temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court.
“Now she is invoking the court’s authority, specifically to restrain the respondent judge from hearing the criminal case against her, notwithstanding the rule that criminal proceedings cannot be enjoined,” Calida said.
“This bit of irony would not have raised hackles were it not for the fact that this denouement came about because of her shameless involvement in narcopolitics,” he added.
In her petition, the detained senator insisted that it was the Office of the Ombudsman, not the Department of Justice (DOJ), that should have jurisdiction over her, being a public official.
In the same manner, it should be the Sandiganbayan, not the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court, that should handle the criminal cases filed against her.
But according to Calida, the authority of the DOJ to conduct a preliminary investigation is anchored in the 1987 Administrative Code.
He added that the DOJ and the Office of the Ombudsman exercise concurrent jurisdiction in the power of investigation involving penal laws.
The senator, Calida said, is also estopped from insisting that the DOJ has no jurisdiction over her because in March 29, 2012, she, as secretary of justice, signed a memorandum of agreement with the Office of the Ombudsman recognizing the concurrent jurisdiction of both bodies when it comes to erring public officials.
“The MOA belies De Lima’s posturings,” Calida said.
With the MOA, the government’s lead counsel said, “De Lima is also barred by estoppel from claiming otherwise: She herself recognized the concurrent jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman and the DOJ.”
Calida added that the Regional Trial Court, not the Sandiganbayan, has the exclusive jurisdiction over drug cases as stated in the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The government lawyer added that the senator violated the rule on forum shopping when she filed the petition with the Supreme Court even if she had a pending petition at the Court of Appeals and motions to quash before the three branches at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Courts.
De Lima is now detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center for violation of Republic Act 9165 (Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act) particularly for illegal drug trading or selling (considering that essentially trading of illegal drugs is just selling with the use of electronic devises, as defined in Section 3 (jj) of RA 9165).
She has been insisting that she is a victim of political persecution, being a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.
But Calida said: “To establish political harassment, an accused must prove that the public prosecutor, not just the private complainant acted, in bad faith in prosecuting the case or has lent himself to a scheme that could have no other purpose than to place respondents in contempt and disrepute.”
In this case, however, Calida said De Lima failed to show “a shred of evidence that she is a victim of political persecution.”
He said a full blown trial should be conducted for this case.
The high court is set to hold an oral argument on this case on March 14. /atm