December 11, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Prosecution’s appeal to consolidate De Lima’s cases denied

THE Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) has denied the appeal of the prosecution to consolidate the three drug-related cases of Senator Leila M. de Lima.

Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 Judge Juanita T. Guerrero, who earlier ordered the arrest of Ms. De Lima, said in a three-page order that court found no merit to consolidate the cases.

State prosecutors earlier sought the consolidation, saying that it “arose from the similar set of facts; there are common parties and issues; and interrelated evidence will be in Court, as the cases are founded on same facts and/or forming part of a series of offenses similar in character.”

However, Ms. Guerrero said that the court finds no merit in the consolidation of the 3 aforementioned cases to one court as the accused in said cases are different and the cases involved different incidents. Further, the consolidation would lead to prolonged trial.”

The court decision was issued on March 30 and received by the counsel of Ms. De Lima on April 17.

To recall, Ms. De Lima’s camp, led by lawyer Alex Padilla, prayed for the nullification of the warrant of arrest from Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204; a writ of prohibition enjoining and prohibiting Judge Guerrero from conducting any further proceedings until and unless the Motion to Quash is resolved with finality; a temporary restraining order to halt the proceedings; and the issuance of a Status Quo Ante Order.

Ms. De Lima is facing three counts of violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, based on complaints filed by the Volunteers against Crime and Corruption; former National Bureau of Investigation deputy directors Reynaldo O. Esmeralda and Ruel M. Lasala; and inmate Jaybee Niño M. Sebastian.

On Feb. 20, the cases were raffled off to Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branches 204 under Ms. Guerrero, 205 under Judge Amelia A. Fabros-Corpuz, and 206 under Judge Patria A. Manalastas-de Leon.

The complaints and the DoJ-issued resolution were built upon the testimonies of inmates during the House probe on the alleged drug proliferation in the national penitentiary.

Ms. De Lima is accused of violating Section 5, in relation to Section 3 (jj), Section 26 (b) and Section 28, of Republic Act No. 9165 or the “Sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals.”

The neophyte senator and former Justice Secretary is currently detained in the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City. -- Raynan F. Javil