De Lima sees ‘dirty tactics’ to pin her in drug case
“It’s suspicious and fishy.”
This was Senator Leila de Lima’s statement against the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) move to exclude her co-accused, former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, from the drug-related case hurled against her.
“By turning Ragos into a witness for the prosecution, it looks like there’s a done deal already, a deal for more lies,” De Lima said at the sidelines of her trial at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 last Thursday.
De Lima, who has maintained her innocence from all the politically motivated drug charges against her, called on Ragos and other co-accused, Ronnie Dayan, to resist pressures to falsely testify against her.
“Alam ko na alam nila (Ragos and Dayan) na inosente ako, at gawa-gawa lang ang mga kaso laban sa akin. Pakinggan sana nila ang kanilang konsensya. Magpakatotoo sila. Magpakalalaki sila. Huwag na silang magsinungaling. Huwag silang magpagamit sa mga kampon ni Duterte,” she said.
(They know that I am innocent and all of these are trump-up charges. They should listen to their conscience. Be true, be man enough. Don’t continue telling lies. Don’t allow themselves to be used by the followers of President Rodrigo Duterte.)
The case for illegal drug trading lodged against De Lima before the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 originated from four separate complaints filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), represented by Dante Jimenez; Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala; the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); and Jaybee Sebastian before the DOJ.
The information filed before the Muntinlupa RTC in February, De Lima said focused on illegal drug trading allegedly committed from November 2012 to March 2013, while she served as DOJ secretary.
The prosecutors, however, filed a Motion to Amend Information, changing the original accusation from drug trading to conspiracy to trade illegal drugs, and limiting the relevant period to only two months, November and December 2012.
On Thursday, the DOJ dropped its charges against Ragos who would be turned into a state witness.
In his earlier affidavit, Ragos who served as officer-in-charge of BuCor for four months, claimed he personally delivered money allegedly from convicts to De Lima’s residence on two occasions in 2012, P5 million each.
Ragos and the drug convicts claim that the money delivered to then Justice Secretary De Lima in 2012 were for her senatorial bid.
However, De Lima said it may be noted that, at the time, the 2016 elections were still several years and two elections away. She said she did not run, or even consider running for office, during the 2013 elections.
“It’s very evident that these claims are pure concoctions and afterthoughts. Inimbento para lamang patahimikin at sirain ako, bilang ganti sa pag-bangga ko noon at ngayon sa Pangulo at mga kaalyado nito,” she said
(Purely invented to silence me and besmirch my name in order to get back at me for going against the President and his allies.)
De Lima also believed that Dayan and Ragos were either pressured or threatened by Duterte’s operators to testify against her – Ragos during the House inquiry on the Bilibid drug trade and Dayan during the Senate inquiry on Kerwin Espinosa’s alleged drug links.
“Naiintindihan ko rin sila, dahil malamang, tinatakot at ginigipit din sila at ang pamilya nila,” she noted. “Pinagdarasal ko rin sila.”
(I also understand them because possibly they were harassed and pinned against the wall, including their families.)
The senator’s scheduled arraignment last November 16 at Branch 204 of the Muntinlupa City RTC was rescheduled to January 24 next year.
To date, she awaits the result of her motion seeking for the inhibition of Judge Juanita Guerrero of the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 due to alleged “partiality and questionable independence” to hear the case brought against her. /jpv
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.