De Lima takes case to Supreme Court, questions legality of arrest

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Sen. Leila de Lima talks to reporters right after an arrest warrant was issued for her.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The camp of detained Senator Leila de Lima asked the Supreme Court on Monday to lift her "illegal arrest and detention" over drug charges.

In a petition filed with the High Court, the senator said Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Judge Juanita Guerrero committed grave abuse of discretion for issuing an arrest order, warrant of arrest, and commitment order.

De Lima's lawyer argued, Judge Guerrero should have first resolved their motion to quash before she issued a warrant of arrest.

In their motion to quash, De Lima's camp asked Guerrero to nullify the charge sheet filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ)--pointing out that it is the Ombudsman, not the DOJ, who has jurisdiction over De Lima. They also contend, it is the Sandiganbayan, not the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court, that has jurisdiction over the cases filed against De Lima.

De Lima's camp also said the DOJ's charge sheet was faulty--as it contained no direct evidence that the senator traded in illegal drugs, and no evidence that she gave any order to protect drug lords.

Her lawyer filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition, with application for a writ of preliminary injunction and urgent prayer for temporary restraining order and status quo ante order.

"Maling-mali itong arrest order at warrant at continued detention niya dahil kinukwestiyon ang jurisdiction niya, eh ratsada nag-issue agad siya ng arrest order," Phillip Sawali, the senator's chief-of-staff, said.

De Lima's camp also said Judge Guerrero did not follow the procedural rules in issuing an arrest warrant.

Sawali claimed Guerrero relied solely on the testimonies of the resource persons during the congressional inquiry instead of personally examining the witnesses.

He also pointed out the lack of basis to support Guerrero's finding of probable cause for the crime.

"Walang alegasyon ng krimen. Dun sa mismong habla, hindi nakalagay dun ano ba ang drogang nabenta, gaano ang gramo, nasan ang droga na yan? Nasan ang pera?" Sawali said.

De Lima's legal team maintained the Senator was arrested on mere allegations, adding the testimonies against her do not even fall under the crime of illegal drug trade.

De Lima allegedly received money from high-profile inmates inside New Bilibid Prison when she was still Justice Secretary.

The senator's lead counsel Alex Padilla said if the allegations are true, the cases filed against De Lima should only be bribery or extortion. But because these cases are bailable, the DOJ opted to file illegal drug trading cases as these are non-bailable cases.

Padilla reiterated the illegal drug trade involves selling of illegal drugs with the use of electronic devices.

"Pinili ng DOJ na gawin itong illegal drug trading dahil ito ay non-bailable. As far as the government is concerned, ang gusto lang nila makita dito ay makulong si Sen. De Lima," Padilla said.

He also pointed out the witnesses' lack of credibility.

"Tandaan natin ang mga convicts na ito ay nakasuhan at convicted by crimes involving moral turpitude, murder, kidnapping, kung hindi drugs, karamihan sa kanila life imprisonment. Kung ikaw yun, hindi ba sasabihin mo kahit ano para lang mailigtas ka, mabawasan ang sintensiya?" Padilla said.