De Lima seeks CA swift action for TRO on drug raps

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Sen. Leila M. de Lima today urged the Court of Appeals (CA) to act with dispatch on her petition stopping the Department of Justice (DOJ) from acting on the four cases lodged against her in relation to her alleged link with drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.

De Lima said the CA needs to take swift action as she received reliable information that the DOJ is rushing the resolution of the four cases filed against her and bring them to the regular courts, bypassing the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan.

“I have received reliable information that the resolution finding probable cause against me will be released anytime soon. And they plan to bring it to regular courts. Why regular court? So they can immediately get an arrest warrant,” she said in a press briefing.

“I’m sure they will find a way to make it non-bailable. In fact, they were emphasizing the drug trafficking angle yesterday to make the case fully cognizable by the regular court,” she added.

In her petition for prohibition and certiorari, De Lima urged the CA to stop the proceedings at the DOJ and nullify the actions of the panel of prosecutors which she said are tainted with grave abuse of discretion.

De Lima argued that the Ombudsman, not the DOJ, has the sole jurisdiction to conduct preliminary investigation over cases cognizable by the Sandiganbayan which has exclusive authority to try cases against former and incumbent government officials.

According to her, the Sandiganbayan has exclusive jurisdiction to try cases of government officials with Salary Grade 27 or higher if the offenses are deemed committed in relation to their office. A Cabinet Secretary has a salary grade 31.

She cited the Ombudsman Law, Sandiganbayan Law and the Memorandum of Agreement between the DOJ and the Ombudsman which state that any respondent to a case with a Salary Grade 27 will be under the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan.

In her petitions filed last Jan. 13 and 30, De Lima noted the obvious bias of Secretary Aguirre as she sought the transfer of the cases to Ombudsman, which has exclusive jurisdiction over cases against incumbent and former government officials.

De Lima said she hopes to get a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) for the case even as she is prepared in case the complaints are filed in the regular courts.

“I’m really hoping a TRO will be issued. I already filed two successive urgent motions to resolve my prayer for TRO,” she said.

“For now, I’ll wait for that eventuality and see what my lawyers can file again when the DOJ files the case in the RTC and seek an issuance of warrant of arrest for a non-bailable offense,” she added.

Among those who filed the complaints against her are the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, National Bureau of Investigation, former NBI deputy directors Ruel Lasala and Reynaldo Esmeralda and New Bilibid Prison inmate Jaybee Sebastian.

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