DETAINED Senator Leila De Lima admitted Monday that she did not sign the petition she had filed with the Supreme Court (SC) before notary public Maria Cecile Tresvalles-Cabalo last February 24, contrary to her earlier claim.
"Due to the fact of the conditions of incarceration that petitioner was suffering on that day, the act of signing was not done face to face with notary," the senator's lawyers said in a memorandum submitted to the SC.
"But the signature was presented to her immediately after the act of signing, with the notary having knowledge that petitioner was signing the petition. Despite these uncertainties, the notary public still took the additional step to verify the signature of the petitioner by asking for her proof of identification from her staffers," it added.
Earlier, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, who represented the senator during the oral arguments on her petition seeking to nullify the February 23 arrest order issued by Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero, echoed the senator's denial on the allegations that she had falsified the documents filed with the SC.
Hilbay also claimed that De Lima signed the petition in the presence of Cabalo at the CIDG office before she was placed at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
Solicitor General Jose Calida had argued before the magistrates that De Lima's petition should be dismissed as the senator violated Section 6 of the 2004 Rules of Notarial Practice.
The said rule requires petitioners to sign their petition in the presence of a notary public.
De Lima in her memorandum stressed that no one questioned the authenticity of the signature in the petition.
Her petition, she insists, was "genuine" and "valid."
In her memorandum, the senator said that she was not seeking special treatment from the SC when she decided to seek relief directly with the high court.
"She seeks only the fundamental right of every citizen to invoke the Constitution as shield and sword against government abuse," the memorandum read.
The senator, however, claimed that her petition is special, not because she is a senator but because of the "government's willingness to use its power to pin her down, as fulfillment to the promise made by President Rodrigo Duterte.
"To file charges that are manifestly false before a court that is manifestly without jurisdiction, simply to satisfy the lust for vengeance. That is why petitioner has come to this Court with such haste. For it is only this Court that is capable of stopping such abuse of power. If they are capable of doing this to a Senator, they are capable of doing this to anyone--unless the Honorable Court acts, and acts now," she said.
Calida, representing Guerrero and other government respondents, earlier said De Lima's petition should be dismissed on the grounds of forum shopping and violation of hierarchy of courts when she immediately sought relief from the SC amid the pendency of her motion to quash the case before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204.
De Lima, accused of benefitting in the drug trading in the New Bilibid Prison when she was justice secretary, is now detained at the PNP custodial center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
Inmates at the national penitentiary, in an earlier congressional investigation, said that De Lima received monthly payola from drug lords inside the prison.
The money, they said, was to be used for De Lima's 2016 senatorial bid. (SunStar Philippines)