SC votes to keep De Lima in jail


The magistrates dismissed De Lima's petition seeking the nullification of her arrest and a halt order on the criminal proceedings against her at the Muntinlupa Trial Court.

The Senator filed the petition before the SC following her arrest based on the warrant issued Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204.

An ABS-CBN News source earlier said the High Court en banc dismissed De Lima's petition in a 9-6 vote, upholding the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court's jurisdiction over her drug case.

De Lima, who is facing three criminal charges for allegedly receiving kickbacks from New Bilibid Prison drug lords during her term as the justice secretary, is now detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center inside Camp Crame in Quezon City. She is not entitled to bail and, if found guilty, faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. "But it also strengthens resolve", she added.

At the end of the statement, De Lima expressed gratitude to the six justices who opposed the court decision.

The SC noted that the exclusive original jurisdiction of the RTC over violations of Republic Act (RA) 9165 is not transferred to the Sandiganbayan whenever the accused occupies a position classified as Grade 27 or higher, regardless of whether the violation is alleged to have been committed in relation to the office being occupied.

Solicitor General Jose Calida said the decision "further negates the erroneous perception that the government's war on drugs is waged only against the unlettered and the underprivileged".

Diokno, who admitted that he has yet to read the actual SC decision, said De Lima's camp is mulling on filing a motion for reconsideration after the team has read the decision.

She also said the case should have been filed before the Office of the Ombudsman, which has jurisdiction over officials with a salary grade of 27 or above.

The decision means that de Lima will remain detained at Camp Crame, the headquarters of the Philippine National Police, in Manila, where she has awaited trial for almost eight months.

"The decision is a clear travesty of justice", said De Lima's chief of staff, lawyer Fhillip Sawali, in an event to mark the World Day Against the Death Penalty on Tuesday at the chapel of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) in Intramuros, Manila.