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Palace distances self from SC ruling to keep De Lima in jail

12 October 2017

Sen. Leila de Lima on Wednesday said she will appeal the decision of the Supreme Court denying her petition to dismiss the drug-related charges against her and to nullify her arrest warrant.

The SC also held that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 Presiding Judge Juanita Guerrero in finding probable cause to order de Lima's arrest.

The Court junked the claim of de Lima that it is the Sandiganbayan and not the RTC that has jurisdiction over the cases against her, since her position at that time was secretary of justice which has salary grade higher than 27. She allegedly used the proceeds from the drug transactions to her 2016 senatorial bid.

De Lima is now detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City for her alleged involvement in rampant narcotics trade inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

Those who voted against de Lima were Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes and Alexander Gesmundo. She is not entitled to bail and, if found guilty, faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. "But it also strengthens resolve", De Lima said.

The Office of the Solicitor General, however, said that under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, the RTC has exclusive jurisdiction to try and hear drug cases, regardless of whether the accused is a public official or not.

The Liberal Party expressed regret over the decision.

"The decision is a clear travesty of justice", said De Lima's chief of staff, lawyer Fhillip Sawali, in an event to mark the World Day Against the Death Penalty on Tuesday at the chapel of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in Intramuros, Manila.

Diokno, who admitted that he has yet to read the actual SC decision, said De Lima's camp is mulling on filing a motion for reconsideration after the team has read the decision.

Senator Leila De Lima emerges from her hearing on Drug charges at the Muntinlupa Trial Court, June 30, 2017.

In a separate statement, the minority senators said they believe that the Ombudsman has jurisdiction over De Lima's case.

Palace distances self from SC ruling to keep De Lima in jail