DOJ won’t drop raps vs De Lima

Evelyn Macairan, Ralph Edwin Villanueva - The Philippine Star
DOJ wonât drop raps vs De Lima
In this photo taken February 23, 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 — Despite the retractions of some witnesses, the Department of Justice will not drop the drug cases it filed against Sen. Leila de Lima, the DOJ chief said yesterday.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said it was decided that the National Prosecution Service (NPS) would proceed with the two cases of conspiracy to commit drug trading against De Lima that remain pending before Branches 204 and 256 of the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court.

RTC Branch 205 Judge Liezel Aquiatan acquitted the senator of a similar charge in February 2021, granting De Lima’s demurrer to evidence.

Guevarra said that the panel of prosecutors in De Lima’s cases advised him that after a thorough review of the evidence, “there is good reason to continue the active prosecution of the senator.”

As for the witnesses, “their alleged recantations have no probative value whatsoever,” Guevarra said, adding that the final say on the disposition of the cases “rests on the judge alone and no other.”

De Lima had asked the DOJ to review the cases against her after it was reported that self-confessed drug dealer Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa and former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos retracted their testimonies implicating her in the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison while she was justice secretary.

No pressure on witnesses

De Lima’s camp, on the other hand, denied a statement by convicted bank robber Herbert Colangco that she is trying to pressure witnesses to recant.

“If we did that, we should have done that a long time ago,” De Lima’s lawyer, Filibon Tacardon, said in an interview following a hearing at Muntinlupa RTC Branch 256 on Monday.

De Lima’s former aide Ronnie Dayan and Espinosa’s bodyguard and driver Marcelo Adorco have also recanted.

De Lima has been in jail since 2017 and her camp has described the charges against her as “trumped up.”



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