TWO lower court judges and a deputy court administrator denied getting a call from Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to defer the issuance of warrant of arrest against Sen. Leila de Lima involving drug-related charges.
Supreme Court Deputy Court Administrator Jenny Lind Aldecoa-Delorino, Judge Patria Manalastas de Leon of Branch 206 and Judge Amelia Fabros Corpuz of Branch 205 of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court made the response when lawmakers pressed them on the supposed phone call as alleged by lawyer Larry Gadon who filed the impeachment case against Sereno.
“Nobody called me, or the judges, to tell us not to issue warrant of arrest. That is the truth. If there was an impression that the Chief Justice called us, there is no such thing that happened,” Delorino told the Justice committee of the House of Representatives.
“I did not receive any instruction from anybody,” de Leon added.
Lawmakers Rodante Marcoleta of Sagip party-list and Vicente Veloso of Leyte repeatedly argued that Corpuz gave the impression that she was delaying the issuance of de Lima’s arrest, considering that it took Corpuz four months before issuing the warrant against de Lima while the other two judges—Judge Juanita Guerrero and de Leon—were able to issue it within 10 days upon the filing of information as stated in the Rules of Court.
Corpuz argued that it took her some time since she had to resolve voluminous motions and other supporting documents filed by the accused, in this case de Lima, which included motions to quash, for judicial determination of probable cause, and questioning jurisdiction of the court on the case.
“I did not act on the case within 10 days because four days after the case was raffled to my sala, an omnibus motion was immediately filed by Senator de Lima. My issuance of the arrest warrant was dependent on the supporting documents filed with the information [on charges],” Corpuz told the committee.
“I wanted to be fair,” Corpuz added.
Marcoleta, however, stressed that the issuance of the warrant was merely a ministerial duty that Corpuz could have easily carried out.
Marcoleta cited the case of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo whose warrant for electoral sabotage was issued by the Pasay Regional Trial Court just two hours after the charges were filed against her.
“The other two judges [in de Lima’s case]did it. What makes you different,” Marcoleta said. LLANESCA T. PANTI