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Remulla: SC reasoning in Gigi habeas corpus may apply in Leila's case

The reason for the Supreme Court resolution to grant a writ of habeas corpus for the release of Jessica Lucila "Gigi" Reyes may apply in the case of detained former Senator Leila De Lima, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla said on Friday.

Remulla made the remark a day after the former Senate chief of staff of Chief Presidential Legal Adviser Juan Ponce Enrile was released from the Taguig jail female dormitory on the heels of the SC resolution dated Jan. 13.

Asked if the habeas corpus for Reyes may become a precedent for other accused such as De Lima, Remulla said, "Possible."

"The same reasoning may apply to Sen. De Lima’s case," Remulla said in a message to reporters.

The writ of habeas corpus is the accused’s protection against illegal imprisonment.

Reyes stated in her petition that she was imprisoned the longest out of all individuals who were charged with plunder due to the pork barrel scam. 

"The writ of habeas corpus is available to the petitioner. Her confinement, though in accordance with a court order of the Sandiganbayan, violates her constitutional right to a speedy trial and infringes on her right to liberty," the SC First Division said in a resolution dated January 17.

"Indeed, nine years is far too long of detention pending the resolution of a criminal case. If the petitioner were to wait for a final judgment before seeking effective relief, then it might be too late for her to genuinely enjoy her liberty. By then, justice delayed would truly be justice denied," it added.

GMA Integrated News has sought comment from Reyes and Enrile.

According to Sandra Aguinldo's report on "24 Oras", Atty. Theodore Te of the Free Legal Assistance Group said this ruling may have implications in other cases.

The writ of habeas corpus was commonly granted before a person was put into prison or after being judged if their rights were violated.

“So during the in-between period when the person is being tried for a case, hindi available ang habeas corpus. That is what the court did here in this resolution, na yung in-between period when a person is being tried, available na ang habeas corpus kapag naipakita na may violation sa right to a speedy trial,” Te said.

Te said this may be tried by other accused who have suffered delays in the prosecution of their cases.

“Senator De Lima and among others who can benefit from the resolution should probably try it. Kasi hindi lang naman si senator De Lima dahil marami pang ibang nakakulong na mas mahaba pa kay senator De Lima. They might be able to avail of the benefit, why not?” Te said.

According to Chino Gaston’s “24 Oras” report, Solicitor General Menardo Guevarra clarified that the release of Reyes did not mean that she is free from her case.

He said the OSG will study the possible effects of the high court’s ruling on other cases.

“The Supreme Court has made it clear that its ruling on the petition for habeas corpus is not tantamount to an acquittal of the accused nor a dismissal of any of her pending cases,” Guevarra said in a text message.

De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center inside Camp Crame since February 2017 over allegations that she benefited from the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was Justice secretary.

Last February 2021, De Lima was acquitted in one of the illegal drugs cases filed against her.

However, the hearing of the two remaining cases against her continues at the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court. —NB, GMA Integrated News