De Lima camp questions arrest order before Supreme Court

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 27 2017 11:38 AM | Updated as of Feb 27 2017 12:38 PM

MANILA (UPDATED) - Lawyers for Senator Leila de Lima are questioning before the Supreme Court the legality of the arrest order, arrest warrant, and commitment order issued against the besieged lawmaker by a lower court judge.

De Lima is also asking the Supreme Court to "immediately issue" a status quo ante order to "restore the situation of the parties to the case prior to Judge [Juanita] Guerrero’s issuance of the arrest order last Feb. 23."

She argued that the judge committed "grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when she issued the order and the arrest warrant. Her acts likewise violated her constitutional, legal and procedural rights."

De Lima's legal team reiterated this in a press briefing on Monday, saying Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero committed grave abuse of discretion when she ordered the senator's arrest.

"Si judge, viniolate nite ang kanyang tungkulin na unang-una, magkaroon ng judicial determination ng probable cause," Atty. Alex Padilla said.

The case against De Lima, he said, was hinged merely on the criminal information filed by the justice department, and evidence gathered during "questionable" hearings.

Guerrero did not even speak with witnesses herself and study the transcript of DOJ's investigation, Padilla alleged.

Padilla said Guerrero's move implies that everyone can now be "open to arrest simply on say-so."

Padilla, however, said they are not speculating on the fairness of the decision, but it is obvious that she did not study the complaints well.

"Mahirap naman na tayo ay mag-spekulasyon, pero ang malinaw na malinaw lamang is talagang hindi niya napag-aralan yung kaso," he said.

Padilla said Guerrero said she would need to issue a warrant of arrest to get the "jurisdiction over the person [of] Senator De Lima," but a Supreme Court decision says differently.

In Miranda v. Tullaroan, Padilla said, the Supreme Court "explicitly distinguishes between custody of the law and jurisdiction of the person," and stated that "one can be under the custody of law but not yet subject to the jurisdiction of the court over his person, so that when a person is arrested by virtue of a warrant files a motion before arraignment to quash the warrant."

Padilla maintained that Guerrero should have first resolved their motion to quash before she issued an arrest warrant.

"Dito, binaligtad niya—may motion to quash, siya mismo nag-schedule for Friday, siya mismo nag-issue ng Thursday ng order or warrant of arrest," he said.

In jest, he also noted that Guerrero reportedly came from Macau the day prior to her decision.

"Ang balita na nga galing pa ng Macau at that time. So hindi natin masabi na ito ay lutong Macau, pero ganun man, talagang kwestiyonable ang nangyari at obviously, hindi pinag-aralan," he said.

SUPREME COURT, NOT COURT OF APPEALS

Atty. Philip Sawili said their "petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for status quo ante order, temporary restraining order, and preliminary injunction" will be filed before the high court and not the Court of Appeals as would have been based on hierarchy.

"May mga malinaw na doktrina na kung meritorious ang kaso, [may] strong Constitutional issue na involved, ang Korte Suprema lamang ang makaka-resolba sa lalong madaling panahon, at the most immediate time," he said in a press briefing Monday.

"Korte Suprema ang tamang hukuman na paglagakan nitong petisyon na ito at hindi Court of Appeals," he added.

WHY BELIEVE DRUG CONVICTS?

Padilla also noted the Department of Justice based the charges on the testimonies of known drug convicts without even including them in the charge sheet.

"Assuming dangerous drugs nga ito, hindi natin alam kung dangerous drugs, sino ba bumili, sino ba nagtrade, sino ba nagbenta sino ba mga criminal. Hindi sila sinama sa charge sheet mismo yung convicts na involved in drug trading. Ito yung mag same convicts na ginamit nila para magbigay ng testigo kay Senator De Lima," he said.

"Ang tingin ng DOJ, basta sinabi nila na nagkaroon ng illegal drug trading ay dapat natin paniwalaan, at dahil ito ay nagmula sa mga convicts… Kung ikaw po ay isang convict na nakakakulong at ikaw ay panghabang buhay nakakulong, hindi ba sasabihin mo maski papano, maski ano para lang mailigtas ka siguro mabawasan ang inyong sentensya… As far as we are concerned, talagang walang ka-value value itong mga testimonya ng mga convict."

He noted that based on the criminal information, the case should have been direct bribery or extortion which is under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman.

"Ang charge ng illegal drug trading ay ginawalang para ito ay mapunta sa tinatawag na non-bailable offense," he noted.

De Lima was arrested last Friday after charges were filed in court alleging she received money from drug dealers inside the country's prisons.