THE Court of Appeals has junked the plea of embattled Sen. Leila de Lima to stop the Department of Justice (DOJ) from conducting a preliminary investigation into criminal cases against her in connection with the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
The court’s Special 6th Division denied de Lima’s request for a temporary restraining order (TRO), and allowed the DOJ to continue its probe, which could lead to de Lima’s indictment before the courts or the Office of the Ombudsman.
De Lima is facing drug trafficking charges and conspiracy to allow the illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary, filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and former NBI deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala.
In a three-page resolution dated February 10 and penned by Associate Justice Nina Antonio Valenzuela, the appeals court said de Lima failed to show proof that the requirements for the issuance of a TRO were present.
These include irreparable injury to the accused and a clear and unmistakable need for protection.
“Mere allegations of the existence of the above named requisites, absent proof, cannot be the basis for the issuance of an injunctive writ,” the resolution stated.
The court ordered the DOJ to submit a comment to the petition within a period of 10 days from receipt of the resolution.
De Lima was ordered to file her reply to the comment within 10 days from receipt of the DOJ’s comment.
Associate Justices Romeo Barza and Edwin Sorongon concurred in the resolution.
In a 46-page petition for prohibition and certiorari, de Lima argued before the court that the DOJ had no jurisdiction over her cases as the Office of the Ombudsman has sole jurisdiction over offenses committed by public officials.
De Lima noted that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre 2nd himself admitted that the cases would still be forwarded to the Ombudsman.
On Tuesday, however, Aguirre told The Manila Times that regular courts have exclusive jurisdiction on drug cases under the Dangerous Drugs Act.
De Lima still has a pending petition before the court to stop the DOJ probe on the claim of drug kingpin Kerwin Espinosa that he gave de Lima P8 million to support her senatorial bid in the May 2016 elections.