De Lima’s counsel hopes other ‘coerced witnesses’ will ‘come out and confess’
MANILA, Philippines — The legal counsel of detained Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday expressed hopes that other witnesses who were “intimidated, coerced, and bribed into making false accusations” against the legislator would also “come out and confess.”
This came about after self-confessed drug trader Kerwin Espinosa recanted his allegations against de Lima, linking the senator to the illegal trade inside the New Bilibid Prison.
“We have always believed that no matter the lies perpetrated by coerced witnesses, in the end, the truth will still come out,” Atty. Filibon Tacardon said in a statement.
“Espinosa’s affidavit only proves the length the current administration [has] gone to fabricate testimonies and evidence against Senator De Lima,” he added.
“We hope that other witnesses will also come out and confess how they were intimidated, coerced, and bribed into making false testimonies against the good Senator and if possible, name those who actively participated in coercing them to come up with such ridiculous narratives against the good Senator,” Tacardon further said.
A counter-affidavit submitted before the Department of Justice (DOJ) and signed by Espinosa stated that “[a]ny statement he made against the Senator are false and was the result of pressure, coercion, intimidation, and serious threats to his life and family members from the police who instructed him to implicate the Senator into the illegal drug trade.”
De Lima, a staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, has been detained since February 2017 over what she has repeatedly branded as “trumped-up” drug charges. The Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205 earlier granted her demurrer to evidence in Case Number 17-166, marking her acquittal in one of the three cases, which she called a “moral victory.”
De Lima, who is seeking reelection in this year’s May 9 polls, previously served at the helm of the Commission on Human Rights – where she led a probe on the so-called Davao Death Squad or DDS, and the DOJ.