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Review of De Lima cases a good first step for new admin, analyst says

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Review of De Lima cases a good first step for new admin, analyst says
In this photo taken February 17, 2021, Sen. Leila De Lima attends the trial of the third drug case she is facing at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 256.
Office of Sen. Leila De Lima / release

MANILA, Philippines — A review of cases against Sen. Leila de Lima in light of withdrawn testimony on her alleged involvement in the drug trade would be a good step forward for the next administration, which will likely be led by presumptive president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., a political analyst said.

De Lima has been detained at Camp Crame for five years over drug cases she has insisted are made up and motivated by politics. One of the prosecution witnesses in a case against her has recanted earlier testimony.

"I was wondering if... the new administration can take on and start to review and kung talagang wala namang basehan, malaking ano iyon, magandang goodwill iyon (if there's no basis for the allegations, it's a show of goodwill)," UP Political Science professor Jean Encinas Franco said in an interview with OneNews.PH on Wednesday evening. 

She added that reviewing the outgoing senator's case would be a "step forward" for Marcos, Jr., who is leading in the presidential race with a wide margin of 31.10 million votes against second-placer Vice President Leni Robredo who was 14.82 million votes. 

RELATED: 'Beyond De Lima cases, retractions show how institutions used to run after critics'

Late last month, convicted drug lord Kerwin Espinosa retracted statements made against De Lima at Senate hearings in 2016. In a counter-affidavit, he claimed he was  "only coerced, pressured, intimated, and seriously threatened by the police" into doing so. 

Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento earlier said Espinosa’s recantation will have no effect on their case against De Lima since he is not a prosecution witness.

Shortly after, former Bureau of Corrections Officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, also the Justice department's star witnesses in one case against De Lima, recanted allegations that he delivered money to the lawmaker, claiming that he was threatened with detention if he did not execute affidavits implicating De Lima and her former aide Ronnie Dayan. 

The Department of Justice said it believes their case agains the lawmaker is still strong despite Ragos' recantation. 

The Palace has stressed  that De Lima has been afforded due process

De Lima is an outspoken critic of President Rodrigo Duterte. While detained, she has been releasing handwritten dispatches from her cell criticizing the Duterte administration's policies and programs. 

In 2021, a Muntinlupa court acquitted her in one case, explaining that the prosecution "failed to elicit strong evidence to sustain a finding of guilt beyond reasonable doubt on the part of De Lima."

She still faces two more drug cases. 

De Lima ran for another term in the Senate and has the backing of opposition coalition 1Sambayan, but a win is unlikely according to partial, unofficial results from the Comelec Transaprency Server. She currently has 7.22 million votes, and is ranked 23rd. — Angelica Y. Yang

2022 ELECTIONS

BONGBONG MARCOS

LEILA DE LIMA

SENATE

SENATE RACE

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