The Daily Manila Shimbun


De Lima’s lawyer asks SC to order her release

March 14, 2017

Lawyers of detained Senator Leila de Lima appealed to the Supreme Court to free her release from detention, saying the Department of Justice and the Office of the Solicitor General do not agree on the criminal charges filed against her in connection with alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prisons. Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, De Lima’s lead counsel, said the justice department has charged De Lima with illegal drug trading under Section 5 of the Dangerous Drugs Act before the Regional Trial Court of Muntinlupa City. De Lima has been under police detention since February 24, a day after Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 ordered her arrest on the basis of the case filed by the justice department that accuses her of involvement in the illegal drug trade inside the national penitentiary when she was justice secretary. Hilbay said in his comment to De Lima’s petition, Solicitor General Jose Calida stressed that the charge against the senator is conspiracy to engage in illegal drug trading under Sec. 26(b) of the same law. “In essence, what the OSG is now saying is that Judge [Juanita] Guerrero found probable cause and issued a warrant of arrest against petitioner for the wrong case! For this reason alone, and without further arguments, the case against petitioner should be immediately dismissed. She should be released without further delay,” Hilbay said. Hilbay accused the justice department of recruiting and using testimonies of convicted felons to justify the filing of drug charges against de Lima. Hilbay said the justice department should have referred the case to the Ombudsman, which has primary jurisdiction over the case. DMS