The Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Br 204, which is hearing 1 of the 3 drug cases against detained Sen. Leila De Lima in connection with the New Bilibid Prisons illegal drug trade, has cancelled her scheduled arraignment on January 24.
This, after the inhibition of Presiding Judge Juanita Guerrero, which means the case will have to be reraffled to a different sala/branch.
While Guerrero, in a 4-page order, dated Jan. 4, refuted De Lima's allegation of bias, she said she decided to recuse herself from handling the trial of the case "in order not to cast doubt on the integrity and impartiality of the Presiding Judge and to disabuse the mind of the accused and her counsels who have expressed serious doubts on her objectivity in resolving this case due to the adverse orders issued against her."
It was Guerrero who first issued an arrest warrant against De Lima and caused her detention, which led De Lima to elevate her case before the Supreme Court.
De Lima alleged the RTC did not have jurisdiction over her and her case should be tried by the Sandiganbayan.
The high court, however, junked her petition and affirmed the exclusive jurisdiction of the RTC to handle drug cases.
Apart from being Presiding Judge of branch 204, Guerrero is also the Executive Judge of the Muntinlupa trial courts.
Branch 204 handles the case vs De Lima, her former driver-bodyguard and ex-lover Ronnie Dayan, and former Bureau of Corrections Rafael Ragos.