MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila de Lima is expected to seek the reversal of the Supreme Court's decision affirming her arrest and the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court's (RTC) jurisdiction over her drug case, her political party said Tuesday.
"We understand that her camp will file a motion for reconsideration, and we trust that the magistrates will give the case a thorough second look and decide based on what is just and right," the opposition Liberal Party said in a statement.
It expressed regret over the high court's decision.
De Lima, who has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame since February, was informed of the ruling Tuesday afternoon and is expected to issue a comment Wednesday, her staff said.
Voting 9-6, the tribunal upheld the Muntinlupa RTC's jurisdiction over De Lima's drug case and junked her plea for release and the dismissal of the charges against her.
The senator's camp had argued that the local court committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering her arrest when she still had a pending motion to quash, and that the case should have been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The upheld case is among drug charges De Lima is facing at 3 Muntinlupa RTC branches for allegedly taking profits from the drug trade at the national penitentiary during her time as justice secretary to fund her senatorial bid.
She has repeatedly denied the charges, saying it was part of efforts to silence her, being one of the administration's most vocal critics.
In its statement, the Liberal Party cited Article 3 (the Bill of Rights), Section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, which says: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws."
This right must be afforded De Lima, the LP said, as it asserted that the senator is innocent and is a "victim of political persecution."
"The issue of jurisdiction is at the heart of the case because it involves the legal authority to pass judgment on a case. We cannot have the wrong court trying and handing the fate of a case," the party said.
"Again, we express full faith that our Justices will be convinced that freeing Senator De Lima is the correct and just way forward," it added.
In a separate statement, De Lima's colleagues in the Senate minority bloc also expressed hopes that the Supreme Court would reverse its decision.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Francis Pangilinan, the LP president, Bam Aquino, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV backed De Lima's argument that the Ombudsman has jurisdiction over the case.
In the same breath, the lawmakers said they respect the Supreme Court decision.
"Umaasa kaming itatama ng ating mga mahistrado ang hindi makatuwirang pagpapakulong kay Senator De Lima," they said in a statement.
"Maliwanag ang Saligang-Batas: Buhay, kalayaan, at ari-arian ang mga batayang karapatan natin bilang Pilipino, kaya mataas ang mga pamantayan bago ito bawiin ng estado," they added.
They said De Lima's long-standing fight against human rights abuses, including an investigation of alleged summary killings in Davao City during her time as Commission on Human Rights chair, was why she was prosecuted by the state.
"Nakakabahala na siya pang nagtatanggol ng karapatan ng iba, ng mahihirap, ng walang kapangyarihan ay ngayo’y paksa ng pagsupil.
Nakakabahala na siya pang ginagamit ang batas para isulong ang katarungan ang nagiging biktima ng mali o abusadong pagpapatupad nito," they said.
"Nakakabahala, pero nagtitiwala pa rin tayo sa batas, sa katarungan, at sa talino ng mga tagapagtaguyod ng ating mga karapatang mabuhay nang may kalayaan -- tayo mismo," they added.
Meanwhile, former Ateneo School of Government dean Antonio La Viña said De Lima had a "very strong case," hence a close vote among the magistrates.
He said her camp should file a motion for reconsideration.
"If 2 justices changed their votes, it would be flipped over to 8-7. I’d like to see the reasoning, but I would certainly file a motion for reconsideration. This is the kind of case which can be reversed even on a motion for reconsideration," he told ANC.
Although the justices make independent opinions, he said the court's decision are also "always political."
"It reflects the politics of the moment, the strength of the president, the strength of the opposition. Things like that are things to take into consideration, and we know those things are very fluid right now," he said.
Even if the court grants her motion for reconsideration, De Lima still may not be readily released as there is a second arrest warrant against her issued by another Muntinlupa RTC branch.