De Lima’s SC dilemma: study some more PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 March 2017 11:08



LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “…`But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit’…” (Jeremiah 17:7-8, the Holy Bible).


DE LIMA’S SC DILEMMA: STUDY SOME MORE: The preliminary proceeding at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 where Justices Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martirez, and Noel Tijam propounded the first batch of questions to former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay in connection with the petition of Sen. Leila de Lima for the dismissal of the illegal drugs cases against her seem to indicate that de Lima will not get their favorable votes.

Jardeleza for one directly expressed his misgivings about the inability of Hilbay’s arguments and submissions and the allegations in the petition that the other lawyers of De Lima submitted to the Supreme Court to overcome relevant provisions of the Rules of Court mandating that the issues she raised to the high tribunal should be returned to the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court for resolution.

Hilbay was told by Jardeleza in no uncertain terms to study further and more thoroughly the concept of Constitutional due process pertaining to criminal cases if he wanted the majority of the Supreme Court to support his submission that the trial judge—Juanita Ferry Guerrero—had the obligation to rule first on De Lima’s motion to dismiss the cases against her for lack of jurisdiction before the order to arrest the senator.


DID DE LIMA DOUBT THE PARTIALITY OF RTC JUDGE? Martirez on the other hand pounded on the absence of any direct rule in the Rules on Criminal Procedure which would require a trial judge like Guerrero in a case like that of De Lima to rule first on a motion to quash based on an alleged lack of jurisdiction of that judge before any further action is taken on the case.

Declaring that he was a judge of a Regional Trial Court for five years before he got assigned to the Sandiganbayan and then ultimately to the Supreme Court at present, Martirez pointed out that the rules on how a criminal case is to proceed to trial are arranged in a manner that acknowledges the fact that when criminal cases are filed before the courts, the probable cause is already deemed established right away on the basis of the prosecutor’s findings.

On the other hand, Tijam—himself a Regional Trial Court judge—zeroed in on the apparent lack of trust on the part of De Lima and his lawyers in the capacity of Judge Guerrero to resolve the cases before her with integrity and impartiality so that they immediately sought refuge from the highest court of the land.


A RAY OF HOPE FOR DE LIMA? All seemed not lost yet for Hilbay and his client, De Lima, however. The discourse of Justice Jardeleza while he was propounding his questions to the former solicitor general who, by the way, was Jardeleza’s understudy and fair-haired boy while they were still at the Office of the Solicitor General, afforded some ray of hope.

But, as Jardeleza repeatedly stated, Hilbay had to come up with a very good memorandum explaining why the ordinary rules on criminal proceedings would have to give way to the Constitutional guarantee of due process. Jardeleza managed to point out that under the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Constitution, a person could not be accused of a crime if his right to due process was not observed.

Jardeleza’s point, using decisions of the US Supreme Court ,was that, even if there is no specific rule that requires a judge to refrain from issuing a warrant of arrest against an accused if that accused had filed a motion to quash or dismiss the charges against him or her, the due process clause of the Constitution is deemed to include such rights as are normally observed and practiced in a society that professes adherence to the rule of law and fair play.


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