MANILA – An ally of Senator Leila de Lima on Friday questioned the "grossly premature" arrest of the top critic of President Rodrigo Duterte.
De Lima’s camp is questioning the arrest order issued by Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 2014 Judge Juanita Guerrero, saying the theur motion to quash has yet to be resolved by the court.
But during Friday’s hearing, Guerrero defended her arrest order for De Lima, saying she has to acquire jurisdiction first before resolving the motion to quash.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a lawyer, does not agree with Guerrero.
He called the arrest order issuance “grossly premature” since the court has yet to resolve De Lima’s move to question Branch 204’s jurisdiction over her case.
“The jurisdictional issue challenges the competence of the trial court to assume jurisdiction over the crimes charged or the subject matter of the criminal action,” Lagman said in a statement.
“The trial court has first to resolve the issue of jurisdiction before issuing a warrant of arrest. It is incorrect for the trial judge to claim that she could not resolve the motion to quash because her court has no jurisdiction over the person of de Lima pending her arrest.”
Lagman explained that at the time De Lima’s motion to quash was filed, the charges against her were already filed.
“Irrespective of whether or not the accused had been arrested, the court’s jurisdiction over the offense charged or the subject of the criminal action has been challenged, and perforce, the court must first resolve the issue of jurisdiction over the offense charged,” he said.
Lagman said De Lima’s arrest is in “stark contrast to the commemoration of the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.”
“While the EDSA Revolution is a celebration of freedom and justice, the arrest of de Lima is an anthology of vengeance, fabrication and injustice,” he said.
De Lima said her arrest over drug allegations was Duterte's way of silencing critics of his intensified campaign against illegal drugs that has left at least 7,000 Filipinos dead nationwide.
"Clearly, this administration has evil and dangerous plans: to make an example of me to intimidate, silence, and destroy anyone who dares challenge them; to draw public attention away from the government’s abuses and failures; and to cover up their most murderous war on drugs," De Lima said in a video message recorded at the Senate prior to her arrest.
De Lima said Duterte has had a "fixation for revenge" against her after she called for an investigation against the alleged Davao Death Squad during her tenure as Commission on Human Rights chair.
De Lima's lawyers are preparing to question the senator's arrest before the Supreme Court.