MANILA — Judge Myra Bayot-Quiambao of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 203 will take over one of the three drug charges filed against Senator Leila de Lima.
The detained senator’s case has been re-raffled after Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero inhibited herself from the case on January 4 following a plea from De Lima.
Guerrero granted De Lima’s motion who cited obvious partiality and questionable independence.
“The court is fully aware that a mere imputation of bias or partiality without any proof or evidence is not a ground for a judge to inhibit in further proceeding with a case,” Guerrero said in her order.
However, Guerrero said “in order not to cast doubt on the integrity and impartiality of the Presiding Judge and to disabuse the mind of the accused and her counsel who have expressed serious doubts on her objectivity in resolving this case due to the adverse orders issued against her, the court, acting on its sound discretion, voluntarily inhibits herself from further hearing the case.”
De Lima had accused Guerrero of displaying “an unseemly and undue haste” in ensuring her detention, citing the court’s inaction on the pending motion to quash and the scheduling of the senator’s arraignment prior to the resolution of her petition with the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify her arrest.
Bayot-Quiambao was a subject of nationwide fasting by political prisoners in 2014 following her decision convicting peace consultant Eduardo Sarmiento of illegal possession of explosives in 2014.
On Feb. 23, 2016, Guerrero ordered the arrest of De Lima and her detention at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center based on the commitment order it has issued.
Aside from Branch 204, the two other cases against De Lima which accused her of receiving millions from illegal drug trade in New Bilibid Prison are now being handled by Branch 205 Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz and Branch 206 Judge Patria Manalastas-De Leon.
The first count in Branch 204 also included De Lima’s former driver and alleged lover Ronnie Dayan, who is now detained at the Muntinlupa City Jail.
On the other hand, De Lima is joined by her nephew Jose Adrian Dera in the second count in Branch 205.
Lastly, the third count in Branch 206 included former Bureau of Corrections chief Franklin Bucayu, his alleged bagman Wilfredo Elli, high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian, De Lima’s former bodyguard Jonel Sanchez, Dayan and Dera, also as accused. (PNA)