SC votes to keep De Lima in jail

SC votes to keep De Lima in jail

VOTING 9-6, the Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed for lack of merit the petition of Senator Leila de Lima seeking her release from detention and stopping her indictment for trading in illegal drugs.

Detained Senator Leila de Lima's chief of staff, Fhillip Sawali, says their camp rejects the Supreme Court ruling that effectively keeps De Lima in jail.

The Court explained it is the RTC that has jurisdiction over the information that charges de Lima with violation of Section 5 and Section 28 of RA 9165.

"The Sandiganbayan's jurisdiction is limited to violations of the anti-graft laws and do not extend to violations of the drugs law", the SC held.

The senator earlier said the Muntinlupa RTC had committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering her arrest when she still had a pending motion to quash.

"In allowing Judge Juanita Guerrero to proceed with the conduct of the trial, the Supreme Court showed its faith in the impartiality, ability and experience of trial court judges to dispense justice without fear or favor", the Solicitor General said.

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Sunday he was "very confident" the court would find in the government's favour. Those parliamentarians who "can honestly swear to being unaware" should be taken at their word, the government argued.

Sawali said of the SC ruling: "It disregards basic constitutional safeguards against the arbitrary issuance of arrest warrants, that there should be clear and convincing evidence, that the charge against the accused should be made clear, that the nature of the accusation should be clear".

The embattled senator said she will appeal the court ruling and her lawyers will file a motion for reconsideration.

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.

De Lima is now detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City for her alleged involvement in rampant narcotics trade inside the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.

The 9 justices who voted against De Lima 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.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), an worldwide human rights advocate group, slammed the decision of the court, saying "De Lima's arrest followed a relentless government campaign of harassment and intimidation against her".

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