MANILA -- The government's top legal experts on Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court's (SC) decision junking the petition filed by Senator Leila De Lima seeking to nullify the arrest warrant issued by a Muntinlupa court in connection with the illegal drug trafficking charges filed against her and to order her immediate release from detention.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said he believes the high court made the right decision when it upheld their position that the Regional Trial Court (RTC) has jurisdiction over the drug cases against De Lima.
"Because of this decision of the Supreme Court, our prosecutors will now move for the arraignment of De Lima to proceed in the RTC. And assuming that there would be no motion for amendment of the information, then the trial will proceed," he explained .
Solicitor General Jose Calida, for his part, lauded the high court for siding with their position on the case of De Lima, which he stressed "negates the erroneous perception that the government’s war against drugs is waged only against the unlettered and the underprivileged."
"In allowing Judge Juanita Guerrero showed its faith in the impartiality, ability and experience of trial court judges to dispense justice without fear or favor," stressed the OSG chief, who argued for the government before the SC.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Party (LP) expressed disappointment over the SC’s decision to junk De Lima’s petition to transfer her case to the Office of the Ombudsman from the Muntinlupa RTC.
“The issue of jurisdiction is at the heart of the case because it involves the legal authority to pass judgment on a case. We cannot have the wrong court trying and handing the fate of a case,” the LP said in a statement.
SC spokesman Theodore Te, in a briefing, announced that the high court junked de Lima’s petition for lack of merit.
“The SC, 9-6, voted to dismiss the petition of Senator Leila De Lima. There are 11 separate opinions (five concurring, six dissenting) Summary to be released as soon as dissents and concurrences are released,” Te said.
Those who voted to junk De Lima's petition were Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr, Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano Del Castillo, Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes and Alexander Gesmundo.
Velasco wrote the decision which was concurred in by the majority of the justices.
On the other hand, those who voted in favor of granting De Lima's petition were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Francis Jardeleza, Marvic Leonen, and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa. (PNA)