'Sad and pained' De Lima to appeal court's decision on arrest

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion

Detained Senator Leila De Lima on Wednesday said she is "saddened and pained" by the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) junking her petition to recall the arrest warrant issued against her, saying the ruling "legitimizes oppression and political persecution".

The presidential spokesperson's statement came after the SC, in a 9-6 vote, uphold the jurisdiction of Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court over the senator's drug cases.

Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero on February 24 ordered De Lima's arrest over the drug charges filed against her. She allegedly used the proceeds from the drug transactions to her 2016 senatorial bid.

Facing drug charges in three Muntinlupa RTC branches including branches 205 and 206, de Lima is accused of being involved in the proliferation of illegal drug trading at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) and of having received money from inmate-drug lords to fund her campaign.

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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.

He added that the ruling "ignores basic doctrines", such that the Ombudsman "really has the sole and exclusive authority to investigate the case at the level of preliminary investigation, and it should be the Sandiganbayan as a special anti-graft court and not the RTC...that should be trying or hearing the case given the nature of the accusation against her and given her rank". De Lima had a salary grade of 31 as Justice secretary.

The Liberal Party expressed regret over the decision.

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.

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But the Supreme Court ruled that the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan "is limited to violations of the anti-graft laws and do not extend to violations of the drugs law".

Malacañang on Tuesday declined to comment on the decision.

De Lima is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center.

The Supreme Court is set to hold a press conference on its ruling Tuesday afternoon.

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