LIKE a hot potato.
Three justices of the Court of Appeals have inhibited themselves from handling a petition by Sen. Leila de Lima to halt the Department of Justice (DOJ) from pursuing drug trafficking cases against her.
The case was first raffled off to Associate Justice Danton Bueser after it was filed last January 23.
But Bueser, a representative of Laguna before joining the court in 2009, is a former member of the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party that drafted de Lima for the May 2016 senatorial election.
The case then went to Associate Justice Jose Reyes last January 30, who also turned it down. The following day, it went to Associate Justice Aurora Jane Lantion, who inhibited herself because she is a relative of one of the lawyers in the case.
The case is now with Associate Justice Nina Antonio Valenzuela of the court’s Sixth Division, headed by Associate Justice Fernanda Lampas-Peralta.
De Lima had filed a 46-page petition for prohibition and certiorari, arguing that the DOJ has no jurisdiction over her cases and that only the Office of the Ombudsman has sole jurisdiction over offenses committed by public officials.
De Lima is facing drug trafficking charges before the DOJ in connection with her alleged involvement in the proliferation of illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison.
She was charged before the DOJ in October 2016 by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and former National Bureau of Investigation deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala.
De Lima noted that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd himself had admitted that the cases would still be forwarded to the Ombudsman. Aguirre, she added, had prejudged the case.
De Lima wants the court to issue a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction to stop the proceedings before the DOJ.