No to TRO on Leila’s drug case
THE Office of the Solicitor General has asked the Supreme Court to deny the plea of detained Senator Leila de Lima to dump the arrest warrant against her and to stop the continuation of her trial on the illegal drug charges filed against her by the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court.
Solicitor General Jose Calida said De Lima was not entitled to the issuance of any writ of preliminary injunction to stop her arrest or the proceedings on the drug trafficking charges filed against her.
De Lima is facing charges in connection with her alleged involvement in the illicit drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison. Calida said that, under the Rules of Court, a preliminary injunction was an order granted at any stage of an action or proceeding prior to the judgment or final order, requiring a party or a court, agency or a person to refrain from a particular act or acts.
On the other hand, a TRO is issued if the matter is of such extreme urgency that grave injustice and irreparable injury would arise unless it is issued immediately. A TRO issued by the Supreme Court is effective until further orders.
Calida said the primary requirement in issuing a TRO or an injunction was the existence of a clear and unmistakable right in favor of the applicant.
“Criminal prosecution may not be restrained or stayed by an injunction, whether preliminary or final, because such prosecution is imbued with public interest,” he said in a statement.
Last week, the Solicitor General filed a comment saying that, although the exceptions to the rule that criminal prosecutions may not be stayed or restrained were laid down in the 1990 landmark case of Lino Brocka et al. v. Juan Ponce Enrile, not one of these exceptions was present in De Lima’s case.
He said hould the high court grant De Lima’s application for a TRO or an injunction, it would essentially be deciding on the pending criminal case against her before the trial court.
Calida said a full-blown trial was necessary to determine De Lima’s guilt for the drug charges against her.
He insisted that it was the RTC that had jurisdiction over violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act and that the warrant of arrest against De Lima was properly issued by Judge Juanita Guerrero.
He said De Lima should be tried before the RTC and not in the Sandiganbayan.