De Lima’s defense team filed an 82-page petition for certiorari urging the Supreme Court to free the senator.
The team filed a request to issue a status quo ante order and a temporary restraining order preventing Executive Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City Trial Court Branch 204 from hearing her case.
The petition also included accusations that Guerrero had prejudged the case and committed grave abuse of discretion for issuing the arrest warrant with “undue haste and inordinate interest”.
Alex Padilla, one of De Lima’s lawyers, pointed out the inconsistency and the lack of due process in De Lima’s case.
“If they can do this to a senator, how much more to (ordinary) citizens like us?” he said in a news briefing before the petition was filed.
“The issuance of a warrant of arrest by a court that has no jurisdiction over the case makes such warrant obviously and patently null and without basis, thus making Senator De Lima’s detention … illegal,” Padilla added.
The defense petition also argued that the RTC has no jurisdiction over De Lima due to her status as a public official and that her case must be handled by the Office of the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan since she is being charged a graft and corruption case.
In response, the Department of Justice created a 52-page resolution indicting De Lima and specified that she is being accused of trafficking drugs in the New Bilibid Prisons.
The resolution cited testimonies by high-profile convicts about how the national penitentiary had turned into a “Little Las Vegas” and how they were able to create a multibillion-peso drug trade to fund De Lima’s senatorial campaign. It has been cited that payoffs ranged from P50,000 to P5 million and was transferred through Ronnie Dayan who was De Lima’s driver and lover, and Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos.
The DOJ also contended that criminal courts have jurisdiction over drug cases and cited Supreme Court rulings such as the Liwag vs. DOJ decided in 2005 where the ruling states that “the agency who first takes cognizance of the complaint shall exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of others”.
The DOJ also cited the event when a Pasay RTC handled the election sabotage case of former President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the court acted hours after documentation has been presented declared the presence of probable cause to prosecute Arroyo.
The Supreme Court had set oral arguments on March 14.