De Lima to appeal SC decision on drug cases

Lian Buan

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De Lima to appeal SC decision on drug cases
'If it fulfills God’s purpose that I’m deprived of my liberty indefinitely, I completely and unqualifiedly accept it,' says Senator Leila de Lima

MANILA, Philippines – Detained Senator Leila de Lima will appeal the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that upheld her arrest ordered by a Muntinlupa court set to try her on drug charges.

“My lawyers will, of course, file a motion for reconsideration, and will continue to appeal to the sense of fairness and justice of the Court,” De Lima said in a dispatched handwritten letter from her jail cell in Camp Crame on Wednesday, October 11.

The SC voted 9-6, denying De Lima’s petition to nullify her arrest on lack of jurisdiction by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC). The High Court instead voted via majority that contrary to De Lima’s assertion, the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan does not have authority to try her for drug charges.  (READ: EXPLAINER: Issues on jurisdiction in De Lima cases)

The SC ruling keeps De Lima in jail and gives a go signal to the 3 branches of Muntinlupa court to try her for 3 counts of drug trade. She is accused of asking drug convicts inside Bilibid to sell drugs inside the national penitentiary to raise funds for her senatorial campaign in 2016, which she won.

“Under the rules, every one who loses has a recourse to file a motion,” SC Spokesman Theodore Te said on Tuesday, October 10.

Arroyo, Duterte appointees

De Lima said she is “deeply saddened and pained” by the ruling.

“I had hoped that the justices who decided against my petition can feel the pain of someone who is sent to prison and yet is innocent of any crime, and has merely fallen victim to the strong arm of the State and the President’s deeply-rooted vengeance against her,” De Lima said (READ: De Lima in jail: ‘I never imagined Duterte would be this vindictive’)

The 9 justices who voted against De Lima are all appointees of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and President Rodrigo Duterte. Of the 6 Arroyo appointees in the High Court, only Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio voted in favor of De Lima.

All appointees of former president Benigno Aquino III voted in favor of De Lima.

Here is the breakdown:


  1. Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr (Arroyo appointee)
  2. Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro (Arroyo appointee)
  3. Justice Diosdado Peralta (Arroyo  appointee)
  4. Justice Lucas Bersamin (Arroyo appointee)
  5. Justice Mariano del Castillo (Arroyo appointee)
  6. Justice Samuel Martires (Duterte appointee)
  7. Justice Noel Tijam (Duterte appointee)
  8. Justice Andres Reyes (Duterte appointee)
  9. Justice Alexander Gesmundo (Duterte appointee)


  1. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno (Aquino appointee)
  2. Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio (Arroyo appointee)
  3. Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe (Aquino appointee)
  4. Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa (Aquino appointee)
  5. Justice Francis Jardeleza (Aquino appointee)
  6. Justice Marvic Leonen (Aquino appointee)

“I take heart though in the thought that 6 dissenters – all venerable magistrates – stood their ground. I honor them with a profound thanks and admiration for their courage and fealty to their sworn duty,” De Lima said.

De Lima said “there is no other recourse but to go on fighting,” but the Senator said she accepts the possibility of staying inside the jail for a long time.

De Lima said she has “no illusion about attaining vindication for as long as my persecutors remain in power.”

“If it fulfills God’s purpose that I’m deprived of my liberty indefinitely, I completely and unqualifiedly accept it. I’m letting go and let God work in His own divine ways,” De Lima said. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.