Court junks motion to consolidate De Lima's drug cases

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 21) — A regional trial court on Friday denied the prosecution's request to consolidate three drug cases she is charged with.

Prosecutors asked the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero — the judge who ordered the senator's arrest — to try all of De Lima's cases. But it was denied by the judge.

In the court resolution, Guerrero said she found no merit to consolidate the three cases because they involve different incidents.

She added the consolidation of the cases will only prolong the trial.

In a motion filed before the court last March, the Department of Justice prosecution said the three separate cases all refer to De Lima's alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was Justice Secretary.

The Justice Department filed three separate drug cases against the senator, which were raffled off to the regional trial court branches 204, 205, and 206 in Muntinlupa on February 20.

The cases of drug trafficking were filed against De Lima by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, former National Bureau of Investigation deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala, the National Bureau of Investigation, and inmate Jaybee Sebastian.

De Lima, who is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, also has a pending petition before the Supreme Court questioning her arrest on February 24.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.