By Jonathan Hicap
The Muntinlupa judge handling the drug case of detained Sen. Leila de Lima has filed for early retirement.
Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 256 will be retiring in June, becoming the second judge in de Lima’s cases to do so.
Fabros-Corpuz, who was previously the judge in Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205, is handling case 17-167 for conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against de Lima, former Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Bucayu, Joenel Sanchez, Ronnie Dayan, Wilfredo Elli, prisoner Jaybee Nino Sebastian and Jose Adrian Dera.
They were accused of using NBP inmates to sell and trade dangerous drugs using mobile phones and other electronic devices, and getting P70 million between March 2013 to May 2015.
De Lima is facing three drug cases in two Muntinlupa courts, charges which her camp called fabricated.
There were four judges who inhibited themselves from handling de Lima’s cases, while two opted for early retirement, including Fabros-Corpuz.
In January 2018, Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204, who issued the warrant of arrest against de Lima in February 2017, inhibited from case 17-165 after admitting the amended information that changed the charges against De Lima from illegal drug trading to conspiracy to trade illegal drugs.
Judge Antonietta Pablo-Medina of the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 276, who presided over the re-raffle of the case, inhibited, saying she was a classmate of de Lima.
On Jan. 23, 2018, Judge Myra Bayot-Quiambao of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 203 inhibited herself from case 17-165, saying that she had a close relationship with a member of the prosecution panel.
In February 2018, Judge Patria Manalastas-De Leon of Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206, who was handling case 17-166, filed for early retirement.
Last November, Judge Lorna Navarro-Domingo of the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 206 inhibited from case 17-166 after De Lima’s camp filed for a motion for her inhibition.
With Fabros-Corpuz’s decision to retire early, the scheduled hearing on June 5 has been postponed.