MANILA—Solicitor General Jose Calida on Thursday said he is confident that detained Senator Leila De Lima’s petition filed before the Supreme Court (SC) will be dismissed.
“We have a very strong case. Baka first-round knockout ito (This could be a first-round knockout),” Calida said after the high court conducted the first round of oral arguments last Tuesday on De Lima’s Petition for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) or a Writ of Preliminary Injunction on the arrest warrant issued against her and the continuation of her trial before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 under the sala of Judge Juanita Guerrero.
Calida, who is representing Guerrero and the Philippine National Police as respondents in this case, earlier sought the inhibition of Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza as he is a former colleague of De Lima in the previous administration.
However at the start of the oral argument, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno announced that the motion for Jardeleza’s inhibition from the case is denied.
Calida said that De Lima deceived the SC by fabricating the jurats in her Petition and in the attached affidavit of Merit.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on Monday filed a manifestation before the Supreme Court stating that De Lima falsified the jurats in the verification and certification against forum shopping of her petition and in the affidavit of merit supporting her prayer for an injunctive writ.
A jurat is the clause at the end of the document, like an affidavit, stating the date, place, and name of the person before whom it was sworn. It is the proof that an oath was taken before an administering officer, such as a notary.
According to the OSG, De Lima could not have personally appeared and sworn before Atty. Maria Cecile C. Tresvalles-Cabalo to sign and execute her Verification and Certification Against Forum Shopping and the Affidavit of Merit, which were both dated February 24.
The OSG noted that Tresvalles-Cabalo, who is De Lima’s sister at the Lamba Rho sorority at the San Beda College of Law, is commissioned as a notary public in Quezon City. This means that she can perform notarial acts only within Quezon City.
The OSG stressed, thus, “Consequentially, the only time that petitioner [De Lima] could have personally appeared and sworn before Atty. Tresvalles-Cabalo was when petitioner was at Camp Crama since this was the only location that was within Atty. Tresvalles-Cabalo’s notarial commission.”
The OSG, however, pointed out that De Lima was arrested by the PNP-CIDG on Feb. 24 2017, at around 8:00 a.m.
At around 8:41 a.m., she arrived at the PNP Headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City for the booking procedure. At 10:18 a.m., she was brought to the RTC of Muntinlupa City, Branch 204, for the return of the arrest warrant.
Guerrero then issued an Order directing her detention at the PNP Custodial Service Unit in Camp Crame. De Lima left the Muntinlupa RTC at around 11:30 a.m., and was back in Camp Crame past 1:00 p.m.
In separate affidavits attached to the OSG’s Manifestation, Police Supt. Arnel Apud, Chief of the PNP Custodial Unit, and Senior Supt. Belli Tamayo, CIDG-NCR Chief, attested that they did not witness De Lima appear and swear before Tresvalles-Cabalo at Camp Crame on February 24. Moreover, the guest logbook at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame for Feb. 24 to 25, 2017 does not bear the name of Atty. Tresvalles-Cabalo. Thus, it appears that the notary public never entered Camp Crame on the said dates.
“In light of all these, there can be no other conclusion than that De Lima falsified her jurats,” Calida said in a statement.
According to Calida, the SC ought to dismiss De Lima’s Petition as it is bereft of any legal consequence. Citing Sections 3 and 4, Rule 7 of the Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, Calida said that the falsity of the subject jurats render De Lima’s Petition a mere scrap of paper which produces no legal effect.
“De Lima’s Petition should be considered unsigned while the Affidavit of Merit as not having been executed,” he added.
Calida said that they will file the charges against De Lima and Tresvelles-Cabalo, the Notary Public who notarized the petition of the lady senator.
The two were accused of defrauding the high court by making it appear that De Lima took her oath before Cabalo for the execution of the petition for certiorari to be filed with the SC, which actually did not happen.
The government lawyers raised the physical impossibility for Tresvelles-Cabalo to sign the petition of De Lima on February 24, 2017.
A proof of the same was the Logbook in the PNP Custodial Center Unit and the affidavits of the PNP guards therein that they have not seen Tresvelles-Cabalo enter the detention cell of De Lima to swear in and sign such petition.
“We will file cases vs the Notary Public and De Lima,” Calida said.
Calida said that they are now studying the charges to be filed against De Lima and Tresvelles-Cabalo.
“Under study and preparation. Most likely falsification and administrative cases,” the Solgen stated.
Calida will be arguing for the Public Respondents when the oral arguments resume on March 21.