By Hannah L. Torregoza
The camp of detained Senator Leila de Lima has sought for the inhibition of Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero in hearing the illegal drug trading charge filed against her, citing the magistrate’s obvious partiality and questionable independence.
De Lima, in her 23-page Motion for Inhibition and to Defer Arraignment she filed last Thursday, likewise asked the High Tribunal to defer her arraignment pending the resolution of the Motion for Reconsideration (MR) she filed with the Supreme Court (SC).
“It is incumbent upon this court to hold in abeyance the scheduled arraignment. Otherwise, such an act would be tantamount to this court pre-empting the Supreme Court and arrogating unto herself the authority to have a final say on the jurisprudential effect of the Supreme Court’s Decision,” De Lima’s motion read.
De Lima’s camp said Guerrero has “displayed an unseemly and undue haste” in ensuring her detention and depriving her of liberty and thus, should be stopped from conducting further proceedings on her cases for supposedly violating her constitutional rights repeatedly.
Recalling the events that transpired last year, De Lima pointed out Guerrero’s illegal issuance of an arrest warrant against her, the judge’s inaction on her Motion to Quash (MTQ), and the scheduling of the senator’s arraignment prior to deciding on the pending MTQ and MR filed before the SC.
“The glaringly clear, single-minded over-eagerness to detain accused De Lima based on an invalid information that is irredeemably and irreparably tainted and made defective by, among others, the rampant and blatant violation of accused De Lima’s rights, is quite evident,” De Lima’s camp stated.
De Lima’s camp maintains an impartial judge should have acted on the red flags “indicating serious infirmities and irregularities that attended the preliminary investigation of the case” and, as a consequence, give greater respect and protection to the accused’s constitutional rights.
The case of illegal drug trading that was lodged at Guerrero’s office originated from the complaint filed by former NBI deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer in charge Rafael Ragos, and De Lima’s former driver Ronnie Dayan, before the Department of Justice.
The complaint primarily focused on De Lima’s alleged culpability in the proliferation of illegal drug trading inside the New Bilibid Prisons during her time as Justice secretary.
De Lima’s camp, however, pointed out the prosecutor filed a Motion to Amend Information last November 10 but the senator’s counsels have yet to receive a copy of the said motion.