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MANILA, Philippines – Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Juanita Guerrero has inhibited from the drug charge against detained Senator Leila de Lima, according to an order signed by Guerrero on January 4.
Guerrero of Branch 204 was the judge who issued the first warrant of arrest that detained De Lima in February 2017. De Lima filed a motion for inhibition.
“In order not to cast doubt on the integrity and impartiality of the Presiding Judge and to disabuse the mind of the accused and her counsels who have expressed serious doubts on her objectivity in resolving this case due to the adverse orders issued against her, the court, acting on its sound discretion, voluntarily inhibits herself from further hearing the case,” Guerrero wrote in the order.
She also ordered the re-raffle of De Lima’s case.
The other judges handling the other two counts of illegal drug trading against De Lima are Judge Amelia Fabros Corpuz of Branch 205 and Judge Patria Manalastas de Leon of Branch 206. Both have also issued warrants of arrest.
Guerrero was the judge who dismissed the charges against the so-called “Alabang Boys” and the judge who granted the plea for release of convicted road rage killer Rolito Go. De Lima was the justice secretary during both case, where she contested Guerrero’s decisions.
Case can proceed
Guerrero also canceled the January 24 arraignment of the senator, due to the need to re-raffle. But in the order, she ruled against De Lima’s request to suspend proceedings while the Supreme Court resolves her appeal.
“The court is impelled to continue with the proceedings in the principal case absent any temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction that may be issued by the higher court,” she said.
Aside from her appeal at the Supreme Court, De Lima also has a pending petition before the Court of Appeals asking for the nullification of the Department of Justice or DOJ’s investigation, citing jurisdiction.
De Lima’s 3 counts of drug trading is still being amended by the DOJ, heeding the advice of the SC ruling that effectively kept her jailed. – Rappler.com