De Lima asks SC: Stop this ‘circus’
BAGUIO CITY—In her bid to convince the Supreme Court to order her release, Senator Leila de Lima said government officials are going after her to fulfill President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise to make her rot in jail.
Based on her 64-page memorandum, De Lima said the government used the “strong arm of the law…to file charges that are manifestly false before a court that is manifestly without jurisdiction.”
The senator said the charges were fake that even the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) were confused on the actual charges filed against her.
De Lima, together with her former driver and boyfriend Ronnie Dayan and former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Deputy Director and officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Rafael Ragos, is facing a case for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 particularly Section 5 (sale) in relation to Section 3 (jj trading), Section 26 (b) and Section 28 or the criminal liability of government officials and employees before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204. The case against the three was in connection with the proliferation of drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
But Solicitor General Jose Calida said De Lima actually committed the crime of conspiracy to commit trading in illegal drugs.
“The OSG and DOJ should not be allowed to surreptitiously and fundamentally alter the cause of the accusation against Petitioner [De Lima] in violation of the 1987 Constitution and the Rules of Court,” De Lima said through her lawyers led by former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.
The senator told the high court that the “OSG and DOJ cannot continue with this circus and the Honorable Court should not be a party to it.”
The government has not amended the information or charge sheet filed before the Muntinlupa RTC but the case against De Lima has been amended through a manifestation before the high court.
“In plain terms, the Petitioner was charged and arrested for the wrong crime. She must therefore be released without delay as every moment of confinement is unconstitutional,” the senator told the high court.
De Lima’s camp also insisted that it is the Sandiganbayan which has jurisdiction over the drug complaint filed against her and not the Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa City.
The charge sheet, according to her memorandum narrates corruption, not drug trading.
The case against the senator mentioned that she has received millions from the drug lords operating inside Bilibid.
Furthermore, the petitioner said Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero committed grave abuse of discretion in finding probable cause by issuing a warrant of arrest against her.
De Lima noted that Guerrero issued the arrest warrant on February 23, 2017 despite the pendency of her motion to quash the information filed against her on the ground of the RTC’s lack of jurisdiction.
The petitioner also justified her decision to immediately elevate the matter before the court despite the pendency of her motion to quash the information before the Muntinlupa RTC.
The senator said the policy on hierarchy of courts is “not an iron-clad rule” and “not inflexible” and the “Supreme Court has full discretionary power to take cognizance of certiorari actions filed directly with it for exceptionally compelling reasons.”
“The instant petition is a matter of national interest and has serious implications, given the questions involved which were triggered by the remarkably unusual positions taken by the legal departments of the government,” she stressed.
“The instant petition clearly involves questions of law, the resolution of which will not only affect petitioner but all citizens in the country,” she added.
The court earlier held oral arguments on De Lima’s petitions and directed the parties to submit their respective memoranda before it comes out with a ruling on the issue. IDL/rga
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