The judge who had ordered the arrest on drug charges of Sen. Leila de Lima rejected a government attempt to consolidate the three drug trafficking cases against the senator.
Judge Juanita Guerrero, of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204, said in a two-page decision dated March 30 that there was no need for the consolidation of the cases because they were distinct from each other.
Consolidating them, Guerrero said, would simply prolong trial.
It was Guerrero who ordered De Lima’s arrest in February.
Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors, in a petition filed on Feb. 27, asked Guerrero to try all three cases because doing so “[was] more practical.”
Consolidating the cases, the DOJ petition said, would also “prevent the issuance of conflicting resolutions, orders and decisions.”
De Lima is currently detained at the custodial center of the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, facing charges of accepting bribes to protect drug syndicates and using the money to finance her senatorial campaign.
Authorities said De Lima allowed the drug trade to thrive in New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Peter Ong, senior state assistant prosecutor, said rules on criminal procedure allowed a single court to try the three cases against De Lima.
The consolidated cases, according to the rules, should be assigned to the court which handles the case with the lowest docket number.
Among these, he said, was De Lima and her bodyguard as accused in all the cases.
The cases, said Ong, referred to only “one activity—the NBP drug trade.”
The hearing of another drug-related case against De Lima by Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205 Judge Amelia Fabros Corpuz had been reset to June 30.
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SOURCE: YOUTUBE, INQUIRER