MANILA—Senators belonging to Liberal Party (LP) on Friday said that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) lacks the jurisdiction over the criminal charges filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against one of its members, Sen. Leila de Lima.
In a joint statement, the LP senators asserted that the the Sandiganbayan, not the RTC, has jurisdiction over the case as the alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade was supposedly committed when she was Justice Secretary.
LP senators include Senate Pres. Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon, senators Paolo Benigno Aquino, and Francis Pangilinan.
“We assert that the Ombudsman has primary jurisdiction over cases against public officers cognizable by the Sandiganbayan,” LP said.
This statement was issued the same day three drug-related charges were filed against De Lima in the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court.
“Violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act, which is the DOJ’s case against Sen. De Lima, falls under ‘other offenses committed by public officials’ listed in the Sandiganbayan Law.”
The group questioned the ruling the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued without hearing De Lima’s side of the story stressing that she was not yet able to file her counter-affidavit.
They also appealed for total impartiality in the dispensation of justice and asked Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to inhibit from all cases filed against De Lima.
If De Lima’s warrant of arrest is served, the LP said that it would also be a violation of legal proceedings and is therefore a violation of her Constitutional right to due process.