Jueves, 25 Febrero, 2021

Who has jurisdiction over De Lima's drug cases — Ombudsman or RTC

Eleena Tovar | 21 Febrero, 2017, 15:29

"(The) cases filed against Senator de Lima are all criminal in nature.

The neophyte senator earlier said that she has always been prepared to face the charges and that she would continue to fight to prove her innocence.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said the Senate will not interfere with any order issued by the courts in connection with the three criminal cases against de Lima for her alleged involvement in illegal drug operations inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when she was secretary of the Department of Justice.

De Lima's co-accused in the three cases include her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer in-charge Rafael Ragos, Jose Adrian Dera (alleged nephew and close-in security of de Lima), BuCor chief Franklin Bucayu's former staff Wilfredo Elly, Presidential Security Group member Joenel Sanchez (de Lima's former security aide) and high profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian.

However, though expectations are rife about an arrest warrant being issued against de Lima, Aguirre said no arrest warrant yet will likely be issued since the case will be raffled at the Muntinlupa RTC on Monday (Feb. 20) afternoon.

"The power of the Ombudsman to investigate the illegal activities of public officials, including Senator De Lima, is concurrent with the power of other government agencies, such as the DOJ", Calida said in a statement.

Calida cited the DOJ's case against Senator Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan in 2004, which involved coup d'etat charges against the soldier turned politician for his alleged involvement in the Oakwood mutiny.

De Lima earlier asked the Court of Appeals to stop the DOJ's investigation, saying the jurisdiction falls with the Office of the Ombudsman since she is an elected official.

"There was no proof, wala naming nahuli..."

"It's a matter of principle". "The Duterte administration seems intent on using the courts to punish prominent critics of its murderous 'war on drugs'".

He said that there will be no arrest of De Lima done during session and no arrest inside the Senate premises but with proper coordination with the Senate's Office of the Sergeant-At-Arms (OSAA), it can be done immediately outside the Senate premises. "She should instead welcome it", he said.

Atty. Ferdinand Topacio, legal counsel for VACC, argued that De Lima's case is not the only case of a public official which should fall under a regional trial court.

"If the convict confesses and narrates the drug trading, that's no longer hearsay because you personally experienced it", he added.

"I'm here with the people because of our shared thoughts and opinion, shared views and shared convictions", the senator said.

On Monday, Muntinlupa regional trial court judges Juanita Guerrero (branch 204), Amelia Fabros-Corpuz (branch 205) and Patria Manalastas-de Leon (branch 206) were chosen via raffle to hear De Lima's cases. Under the Philippines Constitution, legislators only enjoy privilege from arrest for crimes punishable by fewer than 6 years' imprisonment. Leila de Lima are not politically motivated, Malacañang said Monday, as it scored worldwide watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) for supposedly ignoring the seriousness of the drug problem in the Philippines.

"We're hoping that the court will judiciously consider our motion".

According to Aguirre, the arrest warrants could be released if the judge who will handle the cases determines that there is probable cause to proceed with the arraignment.