De Lima can't be arrested while inside Senate, lawyer says

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 23 2017 04:37 PM | Updated as of Feb 23 2017 11:53 PM

Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA (1st UPDATE) - Embattled Senator Leila de Lima cannot be arrested while she is inside the Senate, one of her legal counsels said.

"Dapat hindi sila nagse-serve ng arrest warrant sa Senado o sa loob ng opisina. Pero 'pag nasa labas, baka doon ang pwede, pero dapat 'yata magcoordinate din sa opisina ng senador. Nakakalungkot naman ang balitang 'yan," Atty. Alex Padilla told DZMM.

Padilla also said they have yet to be informed of the issuance of the arrest warrant against De Lima.

"Kung totoo 'yan eh nakakalungkot dahil mayroon pa ngang hearing bukas. In fact, 'yung mga prosecutors nag-file pa ng motion to have the hearing postponed tomorrow para i-hear next Friday kaya hindi ko alam kung bakit nagdesisyon kaagad 'yung Korte na mag-isyu ng arrest warrant," he said.

He added that De Lima's camp feared that this will happen, given that the case was raffled off to a Regional Trial Court (RTC) instead of the Ombudsman. 

"Ito na nga 'yung ikinakatakot namin na talagang ipinilit i-file sa Regional Trial Court para nga makakuha ng arrest warrant," Padilla said.

In an interview with ANC, Senate President Koko Pimentel said he was informed by his staff that law enforcers are already at the Senate to implement the arrest warrant.

“Senator De Lima, I believe has no choice and she is willing also to comply with the arrest warrant of the court,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said law enforcers must coordinate with Senate security if they plan to serve the warrant there.

He added that De Lima will continue to be a senator and will just be physically absent.

"She is just a physically detained senator. She is not suspended so we will treat her like a senator,” he said.

ABS-CBN sources said a Muntinlupa RTC ordered the arrest of De Lima for her alleged involvement in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) illegal drug trade. 

Presiding Judge Juanita Guerrero of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 issued the arrest warrant, sources said. 

De Lima's three criminal cases were raffled off to Muntinlupa RTC branches 204 (Judge Juanita Guerrero), 205 (Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz) and 206 (Judge Patria Manalastas-de Leon) last Monday.