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Despite retractions, prosecution of De Lima to continue — Guevarra

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Despite retractions, prosecution of De Lima to continue â Guevarra
Sen Leila M. de Lima attends resumption of hearing at the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256, June 13, 2022, 2:00 p.m.
Office of Sen. Leila De Lima / release

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:53 p.m.) — The Department of Justice will not withdraw the remaining two drug cases against Sen. Leila de Lima, despite retractions of figures related to the allegations against the lawmaker, Secretary Menardo Guevarra said.

“The panel of prosecutors in the De lima cases has advised the justice secretary that, after a thorough review of the evidence already presented as well as evidence still to be presented, there is good reason to continue the active prosecution of the senator,” Guevarra told reporters on Tuesday.

So far, three personalities, including a government star witness, have retracted their allegations against De Lima and admitted their testimonies were false and were made due to threats.

Confessed drug Kerwin Espinosa, although not a witness in the case, was the first to recant. Former Bureau of Corrections Officer Rafael Ragos, who testified he gave P10 million—in two tranches—to De Lim’s aide and is a prosecution witness, followed.

Ronnie Dayan, De Lima’s former aide and co-accused in one case, also said there was no delivery of money to him.

Referring to these individuals, Guevarra said the prosecution panel asserted that “until these persons are actually presented in court for examination to ascertain their truthfulness, their alleged recantations have no probative value whatsoever.”

“In any event, the final say on the disposition of the cases rests on the judge alone and no other,” he continued.

De Lima moves for dismissal

De Lima has already asked the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 to dismiss the conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading case against him. This is the second case the senator is facing, with Dayan as co-accused.

Ragos is a witness in this case. He earlier testified that he received P5 million on Nov. 24, 2012 and another P5 million on Dec. 15, 2012, from New Bilibid Prison inmates involved in illegal drug trading, which he later handed to Dayan — but he recanted this in a recent affidavit.

De Lima brought to the court Ragos’ affidavit dated April 30, where he declared that there is no truth to his testimony that he delivered monies to De Lima or her aide Ronnie Dayan in whatever amount.

The senator also stressed that when the court junked her Demurrer to Evidence dated Feb. 7, 2021, where she sought dismissal on the case midway trial, the court acknowledged that the deliveries and Ragos’ testimony as the sole basis of the charge.

The senator has been acquitted in one case and has another drug case pending before a different Muntinlupa court.

Incoming Justice Secretary Crispin “Boying” Remulla earlier said he is open to reviewing the charges against De Lima. “That’s already a cause of concern. That’s a red flag that there is something wrong… So we will study it… there is no conviction yet,” Remulla said on May 24.

Guevarra said he and Remulla discussed the De Lima case during their transition meeting last week, but it was only as “situationer on the cases.”

The two are set to meet again to discussion transition. Will the prosecution’s recommendation to proceed with the case be thoroughly discussed in their next meeting?

Guevarra replied: “It’s up to [Remulla]. But I think he will also be guided by the assessment of the panel of prosecutors who are actually handling the trial of the cases.”

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

LEILA DE LIMA

MENARDO GUEVARRA

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