A Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court yesterday ordered the arrest of Sen. Leila M. de Lima for her alleged involvement in the illegal drugs trade at the New Bilibid Prisons in Muntinlupa.
Executive Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 204 issued the arrest warrant in spite of the motion to quash filed by De Lima who sought the dismissal of her case and the deferment of the arrest warrant.
The court also ordered the arrest of De Lima’s former lover and driver Ronnie Dayan and National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director Rafael Ragos.
They were charged with violation of Section 5 (sale) in relation to Section 3 (jj trading), Section 26 (b), and Section 28 or the criminal liability of government officials and employees of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
“After a careful evaluation of the herein information and all the evidence presented during the preliminary investigation conducted in this case by the Department of Justice Manila, the court finds sufficient probable cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest against all the accused Leila M. de Lima, Rafael Marcos Z. Ragos, and Ronnie Palisoc Dayan,” the arrest warrant signed by Guerrero dated February 23 said.
De Lima’s two other drug cases were raffled off to Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz of the RTC Branch 205 and Judge Patricia Manalastas-de Leon of the RTC Branch 206.
Also indicted with De Lima were her nephew Jose Adrian Dera, former Bureau of Corrections Director General Franklin Jesus Bucayu; Bucayu’s alleged bagman Wilfredo Eli; high-profile Bilibid inmate Jaybee Sebastian; and De Lima’s former aide Joenel Sanchez.
Sought for comment, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said in an TV interview that they are expecting the arrest warrant to be issued since the charges are strong.
Despite the warrant of arrest, the court will still hear De Lima’s motion to quash the charges against her today.
Government prosecutors have asked the three courts to reset the hearings on De Lima’s motions to quash.
Prosecutors filed the motions dated February 22 requesting the courts to defer the hearings from February 24 to March 3 as they will undergo Mandatory Continuing Legal Education training.
The motion was signed by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Peter Ong, Assistant State Prosecutor Editha Fernandez, and Senior Assistant City Prosecutors Alexander Ramos, Leilia Llanes, and Evangeline Viudez-Canobas.
(JONATHAN M. HICAP • JEFFREY G. DAMICOG)