MANILA—Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 Judge Juanita T. Guerrero on Friday ordered that Sen. Leila De Lima be placed under the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) at its Custodial Center in Cam Crame.
De Lima earlier appeared before Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 for the return of the warrant issued by Guerrero.
“The Court finds sufficient probable cause for Violation of Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002, Sec. 5 in rel. to Sec. 3, Sec.26 & Sec. 28 of R.A. No. 9165 (Illegal Drug Trading). Wherefore, accused Leila M. De Lima is ordered committed to the Custodial Service Unit in Camp Crame, Quezon City,” the order read.
Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 is handling Criminal Case No. 17-165 which specifically charged De Lima for for violation of Section 5 (sale) in relation to Section 3 (jj trading), Section 26 (b) and Section 28 or the criminal liability of government officials and employees under Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
The camp of De Lima earlier filed a motion to quash and a motion of judicial determination of probable cause insisting that it is the Ombudsman and not the court that has jurisdiction over her case.
During the Friday hearing, Guerrero, the Presiding Judge of Branch 204, explained that she has to acquire jurisdiction over the person of the accused referring to De Lima before she resolves her motion to quash.
Thus, she said she made a judicial determination of probable cause to determine if there is a basis to issue a warrant for her arrest.
But De Lima’s lawyer, Teddy Rigoroso, maintained that there is not enough evidence to prove the allegation of illegal drug trade. He added that the motions to quash, judicial determination of probable cause has to be resolved first by the court.
Calling the arrest warrant premature, he said what the court did was “wrong”.
“Under the Constitution, the Judge is required to personally go over the records of the case before determining whether to issue a warrant of arrest or not,” Rigoroso said.
But Judge Guerero said that there is Court of Appeals and Supreme Court to appeal her order.
She added that what she did was a judicial determination of probable cause to only determine if there is a basis for issuing a warrant for her arrest, not determining if there is beyond reasonable doubt to determine the guilt of the accused.
“I will rule on your motion to quash,” she said adding that she is doing what is mandated to her by law.
The Court gave the panel of prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) within 10 days to comment on De Lima’s motion to quash and her co-accused Rafael Ragos’ ex-parte motion and then once the comments are submitted, the case will be up for resolution.