• Court’s right to handle de Lima case disputed


    A MOTION for reconsideration (MR) was filed by the legal counsel of detained Sen. Leila de Lima before the Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court (QC-MeTC) Branch 34 that questions the jurisdiction of the court to handle her “disobedience to summons” case filed by congressional leaders.

    Fhillip Sawali, de Lima’s chief of staff and part of her legal team, said once the MR will be granted by QC-MeTC Branch 34 Judge Ludmila de Pio-Lim, charges filed by the Department of Justice, will be dismissed.

    The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas and House justice panel chairman Reynaldo Umali, who said the senator has violated Article 150 of the Revised Penal Code or “disobedience to summons.”

    “[Judge de Pio-Lim] actually committed that she will resolve the MR and had given the prosecutor from the Department of Justice [DoJ] to comment on the MR within 10 to 15 days after April 21. The MR will then be submitted for resolution with or without the prosecutor’s comment once the given days have expired,” Sawali told The Manila Times on Monday.

    A court staff, who requested anonymity, disclosed to this newspaper that a hearing on the MR was held on April 21 with Teddy Rigoroso, the lawyer of de Lima, and DoJ representatives present.

    If the fiscal is able to comment on the motion of reconsideration on or before the 10 to 15-day deadline, the tentative schedule for the trial will push through with the resolution already released by de Pio-Lim but failure to do so will prompt the court to release a resolution dismissing the case filed against de Lima.

    According to Sawali, a first MR was filed by Rigoroso on February 21 but he said de Pio-Lim found the MR “out of time” as it was received by the court on February 25.

    “Based on a technicality, [the judge]said it was out of time but based on [Rigoroso’s] record, it was written there that it was filed on the 21st of February.”

    He then reiterated that the judge will be working out on the MR, wherein de Lima also questioned the “personality” of Alvarez, Fariñas and Umali to file a complaint against her.

    De Lima’s petition is pending before QC-MeTC Branch 34, awaiting the resolution to be issued by de Pio-Lim.

    The dismissal or continuation of de Lima’s case will be based on the MR.

    On March 13, de Lima, all the way from her cell at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center at Camp Crame in Quezon City, went to QC-MeTC for her arraignment but refused to enter a plea.

    The trial of de Lima was set for April 26.

    Alvarez will “no longer be required” to attend the trial, with Umali replacing him on the witness stand as it was agreed last Friday.

    The Manila Times tried to reach Alvarez for clarification or confirmation through text messages and phone calls but to no avail.



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