MANILA, Philippines — With barely a month until the May 9 elections, detained opposition Senator…
Malacanang honors the court’s decision in the de Lima cases.
MANILA, Philippines – Malacanang said on Monday that it would respect the handling of proceedings against jailed opposition Senator Leila de Lima by a Muntinlupa court after a key witness recanted his claims accusing her of involvement in the illegal drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP).
Rafael Ragos, the former Officer-in-Charge of the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor), reversed his allegations that he handed money to de Lima in a sworn affidavit dated April 30.
“I now hereby declare and make known to the entire world that there is no truth whatsoever to any of these affidavits or House and court testimonies or any other statement made in the media or other investigative proceedings, including the Senate and the DOJ [Department of Justice], on the delivery of monies to Sec. De Lima or Ronnie Dayan in any amount,” Ragos said in his sworn affidavit.
Dayan used to be de Lima’s bodyguard.
Martin Andanar, the acting presidential spokesperson and Communications Secretary, said the Palace is delegating de Lima’s fate to the courts.
“We respect the court’s independence in handling Senator Leila de Lima’s case, particularly in examining the facts given, such as former Bureau of Corrections Officer-in-Charge Rafael Ragos’ testimony,” he stated in a press statement.
He also reaffirmed his continued faith in the DOJ and the National Prosecution Service to carry out their responsibilities.
“At the same time, we continue to have faith in the Department of Justice and the National Prosecution Service to carry out their responsibilities in investigating and prosecuting the accusations brought against the lady senator,” he continued.
Andanar also criticized de Lima’s defense counsel’s recent remark that Duterte is the “brain” behind the manipulation of the justice system to imprison the senator with faked testimony as “absolute hogwash.”
“Senator De Lima’s prosecution is based on her violations of our laws and has nothing to do with her political opinions on President Obama’s anti-illegal drug campaign or her party affiliation,” he said.
He also stated that de Lima is receiving a fair public trial, as required by law.
“The lady senator is currently facing charges before a competent court, which we recognize as a separate, co-equal, and independent arm of government. He said, “Let the wheels of justice continue to turn.”
Ragos said in his declaration that he was “coerced” into making false claims against de Lima by then-Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II.
He further stated that he was pressured to work with Aguirre and DOJ public prosecutors in order for him to be dropped as a co-accused and instead turned into a witness against de Lima and Dayan.
Ragos testified in September 2016 that he personally transferred money from the illegal drug trade to then-Justice Secretary de Lima’s home for her senatorial campaign on two occasions in 2012. He said that he transacted with Dayan for PHP5 million per transaction.
Days after self-confessed drug lord Roland “Kerwin” Espinosa retracted his claims against de Lima, he issued this recantation.
The Palace had already dismissed Espinosa’s declaration, claiming that his retractions would have no bearing on de Lima’s cases in Muntinlupa.
One of the three cases filed by the DOJ against De Lima in 2017 was acquitted, while the other two are still proceeding in Muntinlupa courts. Ragos is a key witness against de Lima and Dayan in one of the two outstanding cases.
De Lima, a vocal critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been arrested since February 2017 for allegedly plotting to establish a drug trafficking network inside the National Bureau of Investigation in Muntinlupa City while serving as Justice Secretary.
She has refuted the charges on numerous occasions.