SEN. Leila de Lima will stay in prison after the Supreme Court denied her motion for reconsideration on a lower court ruling that ordered her arrest and detention on drug charges.
In its ruling, penned by Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., the high tribunal upheld the February 23, 2017 order on her arrest by Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Juanita Guerrero.
In her motion, de Lima said the RTC judge committed grave abuse of discretion because the warrant was issued despite the fact that she had a pending motion to quash and despite having no jurisdiction over her case.
She argued that the Office of the Ombudsman had jurisdiction over her case since she was charged on the basis that she used her position as secretary of justice in relation to the alleged criminal acts, “specifically that she demanded, solicited and extorted money from the [New Bilibid Prison] inmates through her alleged intermediaries/bagmen,” namely Rafael Ragos and Ronnie Dayan.”
De Lima surrendered to authorities on February 24, 2017, a day after a warrant of arrest was issued against her following drug charges filed against her by the Department of Justice. She has since been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.
The court ruled that the Muntinlupa RTC has jurisdiction on the illegal drug case against de Lima, and not the Office of the Ombudsman.
A court source said the voting was 9-5, as the majority justices ruled to dismiss de Lima’s petition for lack of merit.
The justices who dissented to the Velasco ponencia were Antonio Carpio, Marvic Leonen, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and Francis Jardeleza and Estela Perlas-Bernabe. However, Bernabe issued a concurring and dissenting opinion to the issue.
Four new appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte — Associate Justices Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr. and Alexander Gesmundo — voted against de Lima. Also concurring in the Velasco ruling were Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin and Mariano del Castillo.