RTC orders arrest of Sen. De Lima; LP senators react

MANILA, Philippines - The Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 on Thursday afternoon has ordered arrest of Senator Leila de Lima for the alleged involvement on illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).

RTC orders arrest of Sen. De Lima; LP senators react
Photo Credit: Facebook/Leila de Lima
Presiding Judge Juanita Guerrero issued the warrant of arrest to De Lima for the case of violation of Section 5 (sale) in relation to Section 3 ( trading), Section 26 (b ) and Section 28 or the criminal liability of government officials and employees of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

“After a careful evaluation of the herein Information and all the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation conducted in this case by the Department of Justice, the Court finds sufficient probable cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest,” the court’s order stated.

Several complaints filed by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), former NBI deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala, and Bilibid inmate Jaybee Sebastian accused De Lima of directing high-profile Bilibid inmates to distribute huge volumes of shabu to help fund her 2016 senatorial bid.

De Lima: Warrant of arrest issuance is questionable

On Thursday evening, De Lima held a press conference questioning the issuance of warrant of arrest amid their motion to quash that her camp filed.

"Dapat bukas ay didinggin muna yung inihain ng aming mga abogado na motions to quash doon sa tatlong kaso. Sa katunayan, yung prosecution, specifically the DOJ (Department of Justice), had reset the hearing tomorrow for March 3. Kaya po nagulat po kami lahat na biglang inissue ang order and warrant of arrest," she said.

De Lima added that as of 7:20 p.m., the warrant of arrest has not yet been served to her.

"Ninanais ko po muna na umuwi para makapiling ang aking pamilya at kunin ang mga dadalhing gamit sa kulungan. Babalik po ako dito bukas ng umaga. Dito ko po sa senado hihintayin ang arresting unit. Hihintayin ko po sila at kusa po ako na susuko, " De Lima told reporters.

LP senators: This arrest is purely political vendetta

The Liberal Party (LP) reiterates that it condemns the political persecution of administration critic Sen. Leila De Lima.

"We repeat: The Sandiganbayan, not the RTC, has jurisdiction over the case as the alleged wrongdoings were supposedly committed when she was Justice Secretary," the statement shared on Facebook reads.

"This arrest is purely political vendetta and has no place in justice system that upholds the rule of law. This is condemnable," the statement added.

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