De Lima camp seeks SC intervention over 'speedy' arrest

THE camp of detained Senator Leila De Lima has filed a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) questioning the "speedy" issuance of the arrest warrant against her and two others by Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC).

In a petition for certiorari filed on Monday, De Lima said Guerrero acted with "grave abuse of discretion" when she issued the warrants of arrest against her, her former driver Ronnie Dayan, and former Bureau of Corrections official Rafael Ragos on Thursday, February 23.

All the three subjects in the warrant were accounted for. The senator was brought to the Philippine National Police headquarters on Friday, her alleged bagman Dayan to the Muntinlupa police jail the same day, and Ragos to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) detention facility on Monday following his surrender on Sunday.

In the petition, the senator's legal counsels, Philip Sawali and Alex Padilla, said Guerrero's acts violated De Lima's constitutional, legal and procedural rights.

They also argued that the judge should have resolved first the senator's motion to quash the case based on "lack of jurisdiction" and "lack of evidence" filed on February 20 before issuing the arrest order.

"Judge Guerrero acted with undue haste and inordinate interest as she has yet to resolve the senator's motion to quash that has been set to be heard last February 24 given the voluminous record submitted to the latter's court," Padilla said.

"The issuance of a warrant of arrest of a court that has no jurisdiction makes such warrant obviously and patently null and without basis, thus making the senator's detention illegal," De Lima's legal counsel added.

In the petition, the senator also asked the high court to immediately issue a Status Quo Ante Order to nullify the arrest order issued by Guerrero.

The senator is facing three separate drug cases at three court branches in Muntinlupa RTC for her alleged violation of the Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, after she was accused of being responsible in the proliferation of illegal drug trading at the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary.

The filing of information in court came after the DOJ panel of prosecutors' conduct of preliminary investigation last December on the complaints filed by the NBI, its former executives Ruel Lasala and Reynaldo Esmeralda, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and NBP high-value inmate Jaybee Sebastian. (SunStar Philippines)

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