MALACAÑANG on Saturday welcomed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) move to seek a gag order on all parties in Sen. Leila de Lima’s drug trafficking cases before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said de Lima’s camp has been taking advantage of the absence of a gag order to “besmirch the reputation” of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Oh yes, because de Lima is using that medium to besmirch the reputation of the President. She cannot do that,” Panelo told government-run radio station dzRB, when asked about the DOJ’s request for a gag order.
De Lima, who denies any hand in the alleged drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison when she was DOJ secretary, claims the Chief Executive was behind the criminal cases against her.
Panelo said de Lima’s camp should just let the courts try the cases. “Let the judicial process run its course,” he said.
In a statement, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella also welcomed the request of government prosecutors for a gag order but noted such motion was “nothing new.”
“The sub judice rule is a time-honored doctrine. Should the court grant the motion, we expect all parties to abide by it to preclude any undue pressure to the judge hearing the cases or any influence that may condition the minds of the public on the merits of the case,” Abella said.
The senator’s camp has gone to the media to discuss their disappointment with Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero, insinuating that the trial judge issued an arrest warrant without studying the case.
De Lima, who is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, is facing three drug trafficking cases in three different Muntinlupa courts over her alleged involvement in the New Bilibid Prison narcotics trade.
The senator, together with her ex-lover and former bodyguard Ronnie Dayan and former Bureau of Corrections chief Rafael Ragos, was ordered arrested by Guerrero on February 23. She, Dayan, Ragos and five others were indicted for alleged violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.