De Lima to challenge jurisdiction of RTC over drug cases

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 20 2017 03:38 PM

Senator Leila de Lima. Voltaire Domingo, NPPA Images

'Dapat dinerecho iyan sa Ombudsman,' says Duterte critic

MANILA – Senator Leila de Lima on Monday said she will challenge the jurisdiction of a local court where drug cases were filed against her by the Department of Justice (DOJ) last week. 

De Lima said, her lawyers will file motions questioning the jurisdiction of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) over her drug cases.

“As soon as the cases are raffled to particular branches of the RTC, ay isasalang naman, ipa-file naman ng aking mga abugado ang motions na naka-ready (the motions that my lawyers will file will be ready),” De Lima told reporters.

“Ang principal issue na nire-raise dito ay jurisdictional. Dapat dinerecho iyan sa Ombudsman, hindi sa RTC.”

(The principal issue to be raised here is the jurisdiction of the court. The cases should have been filed before the Ombudsman, not the RTC.)

De Lima said, existing laws and jurisprudence would justify that the Ombudsman should have jurisdiction over her cases.

She believes that the DOJ deliberately filed the cases against her before the local court so it would be able to immediately secure an arrest warrant against her.

She added, the DOJ also made sure that the cases filed against her are non-bailable.

"Assuming for the sake of argument na tama ang mga alegasyon nila, hindi dapat yan papasok bilang conspiracy," she said.

(Assuming for the sake of argument that the allegations against me are right, it would not qualify as conspiracy.)

"Nakakatawa nga po ang accusation sa akin na drug trading. Masyado pong -- it’s such a stretch -- kasi yun nga po ang balak na gawin, non-bailable at makakuha ng warrant of arrest."

(The drug trading accusation against me is funny. It's quite a stretch. It shows they want my case to be non-bailable.)

De Lima is accused of violating Section 5 and Section 28 of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which pertains to the sale and trade of illegal drugs, and the criminal liability of government officials and employees.

The three criminal charges were raffled off to Muntinlupa RTC branches 204 (Judge Juanita Guerrero), 205 (Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz) and 206 (Judge Patria Manalastas-de Leon).

The charges stemmed from complaints received by the DOJ from the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, National Bureau of Investigation, and New Bilibid Prison inmate Jaybee Sebastian.

In an earlier statement rebutting De Lima’s argument, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, said the local court is the proper venue to hear the charges.

"On the matter of jurisdiction, it is the RTC that has original and exclusive jurisdiction over the three cases, regardless of the high position of the respondent," Aguirre said.

"Trading in illegal drugs has no connection with the performance of her duties as secretary of justice," Aguirre added, noting that De Lima herself and previous justice chiefs "prosecuted before the RTC several high-ranking officials."