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Raps mulled vs ex-BuCor OIC for perjury

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star
Raps mulled vs ex-BuCor OIC for perjury
This photo shows the Department of Justice office in Faura, Manila.
Philstar.com / File photo

MANILA, Philippines — The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) is reportedly planning to file a perjury complaint against former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos for allegedly lying in his testimony on the illegal drug case pending against Sen. Leila de Lima.

Department of Justice-National Prosecution Service (DOJ-NPS) Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento told CNN that the VACC is considering filing a complaint against Ragos after he recanted his testimonies before the Muntinlupa court and the House of Representatives’ committee on justice.

“In so far as the DOJ is concerned we will just wait if these charges are filed or any entity would file against them and we would just have to decide accordingly,” Malcontento said.

He admitted they were surprised by Ragos’ recantation and that he could be held liable for perjury.

Before Ragos’ disowned his testimony, self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa last week recanted his Senate testimony implicating De Lima in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) when she was still the DOJ secretary.

Malcontento said the recent moves of Espinosa and Ragos might be politically motivated, since their recantation was made close to the May 9 elections where De Lima is running for reelection.

They are also expecting that the defense would present Ragos’ affidavit and when they do, the prosecution would have the chance to cross-examine him.

In his affidavit, Ragos claimed that he was only following the instructions of former DOJ secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.

Ragos alleges that in September 2016, a week before the House inquiry, Aguirre allegedly ordered him to meet with some NBI officials.

During the meeting, Aguirre reportedly “interrogated and coerced me to admit something that did not happen. He escorted me to another room where Jovencio Ablen Jr. was, and showed me a copy of a statement.”

Aguirre reportedly instructed him to issue an affidavit that would corroborate with Ablen and that if he refused, “alam mo naman ang mangyayari (you know what will happen).”

Aguirre, who was also former National Police Commission (Napolcom) vice chairman, kept mum on the allegations and refused to issue a statement.

For current Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, this matter should be left to the Office of the Ombudsman “because we are dealing here with a former secretary of justice and there are also allegations against current members of the panel.”

Drop the charges

The camp of De Lima is calling on the DOJ to immediately withdraw all drug cases and work for her immediate release after Espinosa and Ragos retracted their statements.

“The charges were all fabrication from the very start. Sen. Leila de Lima is innocent. The sad part is so many officials from the department of justice, from the highest echelon in our government, even the public attorney’s office, took part in facilitation,” said Dino de Leon, De Lima’s spokesman, over CNN Philippines.

The senator’s camp also sought an intensive investigation on officials who may have conspired against De Lima, who has been detained at the PNP custodial center since 2017.

Senatorial candidate Antonio Trillanes IV also called for De Lima’s release.

“It is now time to set Senator De Lima free. Her ordeal at the hands of the administration has been nothing short of painful and extremely demoralizing. If they can do it with a senator, what about people who can’t afford to defend themselves?” Trillanes said.

“We appeal to all those who were involved in this elaborate crime to imprison a sitting senator and have yet to come out in the open: now is the time to let your conscience decide for you. At least have some integrity,” he said. –  Emmanuel Tupas, Cecille Suerte Felipe

VACC

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