De Lima asks for her immediate release; says SC Justices cannot agree on crime charged vs her


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Senator Leila M. de Lima today urged the Supreme Court (SC) to reconsider its earlier decision dismissing her petition to nullify the arrest warrant issued in connection with the trumped-up illegal drug trade charge the government filed against her.

In her 24-page Motion for Reconsideration, De Lima said the High Tribunal should immediately rectify the continuing grave injustice committed against her because the majority of its members cannot even agree on the nature and cause of accusation against her.

“The absence of a majority on the nature of the charges against Petitioner is the clearest possible indicator–coming from the Supreme Court itself–that the accusation ‘is blatantly a pure invention’ and ‘a fake charge,’ to borrow from Justice Carpio. This is an institutional admission of the gravest consequence,” she said.

“If the members of the majority could not even agree on the nature of the accusation reflected in the Information, such fact is an objective indicator that respondent judge could not possibly have had probable cause to issue the warrant of arrest against Petitioner,” she added.

Last Oct. 10, the High Tribunal, voting 9-6, ruled against De Lima’s petition to nullify the arrest warrant issued against her by Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 for the trumped-up charge of illegal drug trade allegedly committed when she was justice secretary.

Several political pundits however agreed that the SC ruling is “one of the grossest injustices” borrowing the words of Senior Associate Justice Carpio who, along with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Francis Jardeleza, Alfredo Caguioa, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe, dissented from the Court’s majority decision.

De Lima explained that five of the nine justices who voted to dismiss her petition maintained that the crime charged against her is “illegal drug trading”, while three other justices asserted that it is the crime of “conspiracy to commit drug trading”.

“If at least three members of the nine justices constituting the majority that voted against Petitioner believe that the charges are for Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading, then it only follows that they must have concluded that respondent judge issued a warrant of arrest for an entirely different, and wrong, case. To keep Petitioner in continued pre-trial detention is patent abuse of judicial authority,” she said.

In De Lima’s Summation of Votes, Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Lucas Bersamin, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr., and Alexander Gesmundo agreed that the charge was for the Crime of Illegal Drug Trading, which is the original accusation of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

On the other hand, Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Noel Tijam and Diosdado Peralta argued for the Crime of Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading, which is the subsequent formulation of the Office of the Solicitor General.

“We, therefore, face a situation where the DOJ originally charged Petitioner with Trading in Illegal Drugs, which charge was later ‘re-angled’ into a Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading, which in turn is incompatible with the ponente’s (and four other Members’) understanding of the Information, which they believe charges Trading in Illegal Drugs. This is a circus only madmen can enjoy,” she said.

De Lima also pointed out that Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo is confused as to whether the Information charged is Illegal Drug Trading or Conspiracy to Commit Drug Trading as he changed his mind from one to the other in a matter of four paragraphs.

“Bluntly put, in the absence of a majority to sustain the validity of the Information, Petitioner is entitled to an immediate release from pre-trial detention as a matter of right,” she said.

The Senator from Bicol reiterated her appeal to the SC to seize the “opportunity to rectify the injustice” committed against her for her continued “reckless and impulsive prosecution” which she suffered for the past 253 days in detention.

“It is fortunate that Petitioner is a lawyer, a lawmaker and a human rights defender who is vigilant of her rights, who fights for her liberty and freedom not otherwise available to those who cower in fear and subjection,” she said.

“Otherwise, the opportunity to rectify the injustice might have never even arisen. And it may yet still be lost, and the failure to remedy this injustice will go down in history as a tragically novel case where the Supreme Court – the last bastion of the Rule of Law – stood aside and willingly allowed a citizen, a human rights lawyer, and a dissenter to be incarcerated under charges that are demonstrably false based on the opinions of the members of the Honorable Court,” she added.

The former justice secretary also maintained the SC should not allow itself to become an instrument of injustice by allowing the proceedings that are undeniably political persecution and abuse of governmental power.

“Petitioner, who has complained all throughout these proceedings about the undeniable political persecution and abuse of government power attendant in this case, has reasonable grounds to worry about the Honorable Court itself being the instrument of the injustice she complains of,” she said.

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