De Lima's lawyer says fight to free senator continues

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Sen. Leila de Lima on Wednesday said she will appeal the decision of the Supreme Court denying her petition to dismiss the drug-related charges against her and to nullify her arrest warrant.

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.

Leila De Lima on Wednesday said the battle to free the senator continues. She allegedly used the proceeds from the drug transactions to her 2016 senatorial bid.

It said that the judge was not obliged to first resolve de Lima's motion to quash before issuing a warrant of arrest.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), however, said that under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, the RTC has exclusive jurisdiction to try and hear drug cases, regardless of whether the accused is a public official or not.

On the other hand, those who voted in favor of granting de Lima's petition were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes A. Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, Associate Justices Estela Perlas Bernabe, Francis Jardeleza, Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguioa.

The eight magistrates who concurred with the ruling were Associate Justices Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes and Alexander Gesmundo.

De Lima's lawyers, "definitely, will file a motion for reconsideration within the next 15 days", Sawali said.

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.

The decision means De Lima will remain in jail at the custodial center in Camp Crame.

This would also strip the Office of the Ombudsman of the jurisdiction to prosecute de Lima as the duty now belongs to the prosecutors of the Department of Justice (DOJ). "The decision legitimizes oppression and political persecution", she said.

De Lima has rejected allegations against her, claiming she had been locked up to stop her from criticizing the administration's war on drugs that has seen thousands of suspected criminals killed.

"That is within the Supreme Court's purview".