A newly-appointed magistrate of the Supreme Court echoed the observations of some of his colleagues that detained Senator Leila de Lima may have ignored the hierarchy of courts by going directly to the high court to challenge the warrant of arrest issued by a Muntinlupa court regarding the drug trafficking charges filed against her.
Associate Justice Noel Tijam made the observation during yesterday’s resumption of the oral arguments on De Lima’s plea, adding that he has some concern about the move of her camp to go directly to the SC in challenging the jurisdiction of the Muntinlupa RTC on the case.
“I have some grave concern about the undue haste by which you came to this court compelling us to make a pronouncement on the issue of jurisdiction. To me, the correct procedure should have been you go first to the regional trial court and if you do not get relief or a favorable decision, then you can go here,” Tijam said pointing out that majority of the justices in the SC are former lower court judges themselves.
He also asked former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay who is arguing for De Lima if the filing of the manifestation before the SC meant that the detained lawmaker does not trust RTC Judge Juanita Guerrero who issued the warrant of arrest and the subsequent detention order on her.
Hilbay admitted “there is an element of deep frustration on the part of the petitioner (De Lima) which compelled her” to bring the case to the SC.
Tijam also raised the possibility that the Sandiganbayan might drown in cases if De Lima’s petition was granted since this might set a precedent for others similarly situated.
Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, who also made the same observation, said De Lima should have exhausted all possible remedies before elevating her case to the SC.
Peralta asked Hilbay if De Lima filed a motion to quash the information before the Muntinlupa RTC to which Hilbay said yes.
“That is the problem. It is pending before you came here. Why not wait for the RTC to decide on the motion? All cases that came here on lack of probable cause, the RTC first answered the queries of the accused,” Peralta said.