THE Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) on Monday raffled off the three separate drug cases filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Sen. Leila de Lima, allowing judges to determine if they will issue an arrest warrant against the lawmaker and her co-accused.
The cases went to Muntinlupa RTC branches 204 (Judge Juanita Guerrero), 205 (Amelia Fabros-Corpuz) and 206 (Patria Manalastas-de Leon).
Immediately after the raffle, de Lima filed motions to quash the charges.
The former DOJ chief, a critic of the President’s anti-drug war, is facing non-bailable cases for alleged violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act (Republic Act 9165), which carries a penalty of imprisonment and fine. A DOJ panel of prosecutors indicted de Lima before the Muntinlupa City RTC on Friday.
The Muntinlupa RTC judges will have to determine if the evidence of guilt is strong or not, for de Lima to avail herself of bail. If the evidence of guilt is strong, de Lima will not be allowed to post bail and will be arrested and put in jail.
Aside from arrest warrants, a hold-departure order can be issued to prevent de Lima from leaving the country.
She can also file a motion for the judicial determination of probable cause. If there is probable cause, de Lima will be tried. If there is none, the judge can dismiss the case.
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.
On Sunday, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said the Senate would respect an arrest order against de Lima but cautioned arresting officers against disrupting sessions.
The Volunteers Against Crime and Correction on Monday urged the Senate “not to coddle a suspected and charged illegal drug trader coming from your chamber,” saying “victims of illegal drugs are hurting.”