Did RTC judge in De Lima drug case say she doesn't have jurisdiction?
The petitions filed by detained Senator Leila de Lima before the Supreme Court (SC) revolve around one main issue: does the regional trial court (RTC) have jurisdiction over her?
De Lima's camp says no, the government's lawyers say yes.
De Lima's lawyers are arguing that even Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero, who issued the arrest warrant against the senator, had herself said that she needed to acquire jurisdiction first before she could rule on the motion to quash filed before her court. (READ: Who is the judge who ordered De Lima's arrest?)
During the first round of oral arguments at the SC on Tuesday, March 14, Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr pointed out that the source of this assertion from the De Lima camp was a mere news report from the Inquirer.
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, lead oralist for the De Lima camp, however, explained that at the time they were writing their petition, a copy of the hearing's transcript was not yet available.
Rappler obtained a copy of stenographic notes (TSN) from a hearing dated February 24, 2017, also submitted to Justice Velasco on Tuesday.
The excerpt in question, found on page 3, reads:
Judge Guerrero: I have no jurisdiction yet over the persons of the accused, right? So how can I rule on your motion to quash? In fact, I don’t have to set it for hearing because I don’t have jurisdiction over the persons of the accused.
Atty Teddy Rigoroso (counsel for De Lima): With all due respect, your honor, since the motion to quash actually addresses the issue of the subject matter and jurisdiction of the honorable court.
Judge Guerrero: But Sir, there are two jurisdictions here that must be addressed before this court, jurisdiction over the case and jurisdiction over the persons. So, if there is no jurisdiction over the persons, I cannot act on your motion yet. So I have to determine the probable cause, whether I should issue warrants of arrest. That is my humble opinion.
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