Muntinlupa court issues arrest warrant vs De Lima, et al

MANILA — One of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court handling the drug trafficking charges against Sen. Leila De Lima on Thursday issued an arrest warrant against the lady lawmaker.

Reports said Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero issued the arrest warrant against De Lima and her co-accused, former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos and her former driver-bodyguard Ronnie Dayan.

They were charged with violation of Section 5 (sale) in relation to Section 3 (jj 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.

“The court finds probable cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest against all the accused Leila De Lima, Rafael Marcos Ragos and Ronnie Palisoc Dayan,” the court order read.

Sought for a comment, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said in an TV interview that they are expecting the arrest warrant to be issued since the charges are strong.

In a related development, Department of Justice (DoJ) prosecutors on Thursday filed a motion before the Muntinlupa RTC to reschedule the hearing on the motion filed by De Lima seeking dismissal of the drug trafficking charges and suspension of proceedings pending judicial determination of probable cause.

Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero, Branch 205 Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz, and Branch 206 Judge Patria Manalastas-De Leon are set to handle the cases against De Lima, who was charged for violation of Section 5 (sale and trading of illegal drugs) in relation to Section 3 (jj); Section 26 (b), and Section 28 (criminal liability of government officials and employees) of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

The camp of De Lima filed a motion to quash and a motion of judicial determination of probable cause insisting that it is the Ombudsman and not the court that has jurisdiction over her case.

The DOJ team asked the RTC branches 204, 205 and 206 to instead reset the hearing this Friday, February 24 to next Friday, March 3, because they have to attend Mandatory Continuing Legal Education classes Friday.

The charges were filed after the DOJ panel of prosecutors also issued a 52-page resolution dated February 14 on the consolidated criminal complaints filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC); the NBI; former NBI deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Rule Lasala; and high-profile Bilibid inmate and self-confessed drug trader Jaybee Sebastian. CHRISTOPHER LLOYD CALIWAN/