3rd arrest warrant for De Lima drug case out
In a two-page order dated Nov. 15, 2017, but released only on Tuesday, Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 206 Judge Patria Manalastas-De Leon found probable cause for the arrest of De Lima and her former driver, Ronnie Dayan.
Also ordered arrested were her coaccused: former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Director Franklin Bucayu and his alleged bagman, Wilfredo Elli, De Lima’s former aide, Joenel Sanchez, and National Bilibid Prison high-profile prisoner Jaybee Sebastian.
Both De Lima and Dayan, however, were already detained at the custodial center of the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City, and Muntinlupa police detention cell respectively, due to the arrest warrant issued by Judge Juanita Guerrero of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 in February.
A second warrant of arrest against De Lima and fellow respondents — former BuCor officer in charge Rafael Ragos and police asset Jose Adrian Dera — were issued by Judge Amelia Fabros-Cruz in June.
De Leon has scheduled the arraignment of De Lima and Dayan on Dec. 8. Sebastian, meanwhile, will be arraigned inside the Bilibid courtroom on Dec. 12.
She also ruled that De Lima’s motion to dismiss the drug charge against her due to lack of jurisdiction had become moot and academic.
De Lima’s camp maintained that the Sandiganbayan should hear her cases, saying she was a government official.
The Supreme Court, voting 9-6 in October, however, ruled that it was the Muntinlupa RTC which had jurisdiction over her cases.
De Lima’s counsel, Filibon Tacardon, said they were expecting the prosecution to amend the charges from illegal drug trading to conspiracy to commit drug trading — just like in RTC Branches 204 and 205.
Drug trade charges
De Lima and the five others were charged with illegal drug trading filed by the Department of Justice, based on the complaints by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption.
The prosecutors alleged, that based on the statements of convicted drug lords during the House inquiry last year, De Lima as former justice secretary allowed the proliferation of illegal drugs in the National Bilibid Prison to generate funds for her senatorial bid.
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