2nd arrest warrant out, but De Lima vows to contest ‘weakest of 3 trumped-up’ raps

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Senator Leila de Lima (Reuters file photo)

MANILA, Philippines – A Muntinlupa trial court judge has issued a second arrest warrant, still on drug charges, against detained Senator Leila de Lima, one of her lawyers confirmed, but the senator said her camp will contest what she considered the “weakest” of cases filed against her, while expressing faith in the judiciary.

“Yes, meron (there is one) issued by Judge Corpuz on illegal drug trading,” lawyer Alex Padilla said.

Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 205 Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz, who issued the latest warrant, is one of three judges hearing separate drug charges filed against De Lima by the Department of Justice based on testimonies at the congressional inquiry on the senator’s alleged links to the narcotics trade in the National Bilibid Prison when she was Justice secretary.

Criminal Case No. 17-166 accuses De Lima and Jose Adrian “Jad” Dera, said to be her nephew, of extorting money and vehicles from NBP inmate Peter Co for her successful senatorial bid last year.

The new warrant of arrest “will of course be contested by my lawyers,” De Lima said in a statement Sunday, reacting to the latest development.

“A motion for reconsideration will be filed on the ground that there is no probable cause and the prosecution’s case is extremely weak, the weakest among the three trumped-up drug charges, especially after the person the government has identified as my link to the commission of the offense charged, my co-accused in this particular case, already executed a statement denying my involvement.”

Dera neither nephew nor aide: de Lima

She assailed her accusers’ claim that Jose Adrian Dera alias Jad Dera is a nephew and an aide when she was Justice secretary. “I do not know him at all. Dera himself already denied any relationship or connection to me whatsoever,” said the senator.

“I continue to have faith in the judiciary. In the process of the prosecution of my cases, I am optimistic that the handling judges will more and more realize the unreliability of the witnesses against me, as well as the incredibility of their stories. In the end, all of these so-called witnesses will be proven to have been lying all along, or have simply been threatened to falsely testify against me.

“The truth will still come out in the end. In the meantime, I will continue to exhaust legal remedies to fight my illegal arrest and detention.”

De Lima is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame after she was ordered arrested by Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero on another drug charge in which she is accused along with her former driver and boyfriend Ronnie Dayan and Rafael Ragos a former deputy director of the National Bureau of Investigation who also served as acting chief of the Bureau of Corrections, of receiving millions of pesos from convicts jailed at the NBP.

She has a pending petition before the Supreme Court to nullify the first arrest order.

Yet another drug case was filed before Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206 Judge Patria Manalastas-De Leon against De Lima, former BuCor chief Franklin Bucayu, Wilfredo Elli, Joenel Sanchez, NBP inmate Jaybee Sebastian and Dera.

Padilla said they would file a motion for reconsideration on the warrant issued by Fabros-Corpuz “before elevating it again” to the Supreme Court.