2 new SC Justices to join oral arguments on De Lima petition

SUPREME Court's (SC) two newly-appointed Associate Justices are set to participate in the oral arguments on the petition filed by detained Senator Leila De Lima seeking to nullify her arrest over drug charges.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed to the high court both San Beda Law graduates Samuel Martires and Noel Tijam.

Former Sandiganbayan justice Martires took his oath before Duterte last Wednesday while Tijam, a former Court of Appeals justice, took his oath before SC Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. last Thursday.

On Friday, Martires and Tijam attended the pre-oral arguments and met the parties to De Lima's case at the SC in order to determine the issues to be tackled during the oral arguments proper this coming Tuesday.

The senator's petition specifically assails the issuance of the warrant of arrest by Judge Juanita Guerrero of Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204.

De Lima, in her petition for certiorari, said Guerrero acted with grave abuse of discretion when she issued the order amid her pending motion to quash the case.

De Lima also asked the SC to issue a status quo ante order and restore her status prior to the issuance of the arrest order.

The high court, on February 28, did not give the senator immediate relief and instead set the case for oral arguments.

De Lima, currently detained at the Philippine National Police custodial center, was arrested on February 24, four days after the three separate drug cases filed against her by the Department of Justice were raffled off to three branches of the Muntinlupa RTC.

Aside from her, also arrested are her former bodyguard Ronnie Dayan and former Bureau of Corrections exec Rafael Ragos.

Dayan is now detained at the Muntinlupa police jail while Ragos is now at the National Bureau of Investigation detention facility. (SunStar Philippines)
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