Court allows Ragos to testify in De Lima case

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
Court allows Ragos to testify in De Lima case
Former Sen. Leila De Lima arrives at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 on September 30, to attend the resumption of the hearing into the drug case filed against her.
Office of Leila De Lima / release

MANILA, Philippines — A Muntinlupa City court has allowed former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, who earlier recanted his testimony implicating former senator Leila de Lima in the illegal drug trade, to take the witness stand.

In a four-page resolution promulgated on Oct. 18, Judge Abraham Joseph Alcantara of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 denied the motion for reconsideration filed by state prosecutors, who opposed his earlier order allowing Ragos to testify.

De Lima’s former security escort and driver, Ronnie Dayan, had filed a petition for Ragos to be a witness in his defense.

Ragos had retracted his testimony against De Lima’s alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison when she was the justice secretary.

“The motion presents no cogent justification for reconsideration of this court’s order dated Sept. 28, 2022. Accordingly, the appeal is denied for lack of merit,” Alcantara’s ruling read. “This court recaps that the interests of justice would best be served if the supposed recantation of Ragos be tested in a public trial, with sufficient opportunity given to the prosecution to cross-examine the recanting witness.”

The judge added that even if Ragos retracted his allegations against De Lima, this would not necessarily mean the exclusion of his original testimony.

“This court should determine which testimony should be given credence through a comparison of the original testimony and the new testimony, applying the general rules of evidence. Thus, Ragos must be recalled and presented in court,” Alcantara said.

The judge also chided government prosecutors for filing a motion for reconsideration grounded on arguments that had been submitted and lacked merit.

“Nevertheless, this court has taken pains to evaluate the prosecution-movant’s arguments on the merits and finds them insufficient to justify the grant of the remedy sought,” the ruling read.

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