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MANILA, Philippines – Only a few weeks after her recent acquittal, former senator Leila de Lima suffered a loss in the court: Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 256 denied her petition for bail.
On Wednesday, June 7, the court presided by Judge Romeo Buenaventura, denied De Lima’s bail plea for various reasons. Among them, the court said, De Lima’s plea on “humanitarian considerations is untenable.”
In her plea, De Lima said she is now a senior citizen, has several medical issues, and is not a flight risk. However, the court said these grounds are “not compelling.”
Now that De Lima’s bid for temporary freedom has been denied, what happens to her?
Where will De Lima remain?
In total, De Lima faced three drug charges filed during the term of former president Rodrigo Duterte. Two of them have already been denied – one in February 2021, and then the most recent one in May this year.
- De Lima faces one more case, the one being handled by Judge Buenaventura. The former lawmaker’s petition for bail in her remaining case was important because it could give her temporary freedom after over six years in detention.
- But since her bail was denied, she will not be temporarily freed despite her two acquittals.
- In addition, De Lima will remain behind bars while the trial of her remaining case continues.
- In the meantime, De Lima will remain detained at the Philippine National Police custodial center.
What are De Lima’s remaining options?
After the court denied her petition for bail, De Lima is left with a few options.
- University of the Philippines College of Law lecturer Oliver Xavier Reyes said the De Lima camp can file a motion for reconsideration (MR) before Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 256 to ask the court to reconsider the bail denial.
- Reyes noted that if the MR will be denied too, the De Lima camp can file a petition for certiorari under rule 65 of the Rules of Court with the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.
- “It might be likely though that even before the Petition for Certiorari on the matter of bail were decided by the higher courts, the RTC might have already issued its decision convicting or acquitting De Lima,” the UP College of Law lecturer explained.
- Reyes added: “Also, the filing of that petition would not change her current condition unless the higher courts issue a writ of preliminary mandatory injunction directing RTC to release her on bail while the higher court decides on the petition. But that is very rare and unlikely to happen.”
- Aside from this, De Lima also has an option to file a petition and ask the Supreme Court to grant her the privilege of writ of habeas corpus to gain temporary freedom. This was the precedent set by the release of chief presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile’s former staff, Gigi Reyes.
- Reyes was released after she argued that she is entitled to the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus by reason of delay and alleged violation of her constitutional right to speedy trial.
- In addition, the De Lima camp can also aim for a demurrer to evidence once the prosecution rests its case in her remaining drug charge. The camp would need to first ask the court’s permission before they could file a demurrer to evidence, which will seek to dismiss the prosecution’s case on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
- Granting the demurrer has the same effect as an acquittal. The granting of De Lima’s demurrer to evidence in one of her cases led to her first acquittal back in February 2021.