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SC sets oral argument on De Lima petition

The 15-member Supreme Court (SC) is set to hear tomorrow the oral arguments on the petition filed by Sen. Leila de Lima who challenged her arrest and detention on the criminal case for illegal drug trading filed before the Muntinlupa City regional trial court (RTC).

De Lima, who is now detained at the custodian center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Quezon City, wanted the SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) that would lift her arrest order and free her from detention.

When the petition was filed last month, the SC did not act immediately on her plea for TRO and instead required RTC Judge Juanita Guerrero, who issued the arrest order, and PNP Chief Ronald dela Rosa to comment on the petition.

Oral arguments were set tomorrow starting at 2 p.m.

Earlier, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida told the SC that De Lima is not entitled to a TRO or any injunction on her arrest order and on the continuation of the proceedings before the trial court.

Calida said the primary requirement in issuing a TRO or an injunction is the existence of a clear and unmistakable right in favor of the applicant.

“Criminal prosecution may not be restrained or stayed by an injunction, whether preliminary or final, because such prosecution is imbued with public interest,” he said.

He pointed out that “should the SC grant De Lima’s application for a TRO or an injunction, it would essentially be deciding on the pending criminal case against her before the trial court.”

“A full-blown trial is necessary to determine De Lima’s guilt for the drug charges against her,” he stressed.

In Criminal Case No. 17-165 raffled to the sala of Judge Guerrero, De Lima, Rafael Marcos Z. Ragos, and Ronnie Palisoc Dayan were charged with “illegal drug trading in violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Section 5 (sale), in relation to Section 3 (jj) (trading), Section 25 (b), and Section 28, Republic Act No. 9165.”

Ragos, former officer-in-charge of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), has surrendered and has been committed for detention by the trial court at the NBI in Manila.

Dayan had been arrested and is detained at the Muntinlupa City jail. (REY G. PANALIGAN)