‘Greatest frame-up’ unraveling – De Lima lawyer | Inquirer News

‘Greatest frame-up’ unraveling – De Lima lawyer

Sen. Leila de Lima and former BuCor OIC Rafael Ragos. STORY: ‘Greatest frame-up’ unraveling – De Lima lawyer

Sen. Leila de Lima and former BuCor OIC Rafael Ragos (FILE PHOTOS)

MANILA, Philippines — The “greatest frame-up in Philippine history” is unraveling with the retraction of the prosecution’s star witness against detained Sen. Leila de Lima, the second in just a week, her lawyer Dino de Leon said on Monday.

De Leon said the affidavit executed by former Bureau of Corrections officer in charge Rafael Ragos, taking back his statements accusing De Lima of involvement in drug trafficking at New Bilibid Prison (NBP) during her term as justice secretary, should compel the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop all charges against the lawmaker.


De Lima, a fierce critic of the Duterte administration, has been detained at Camp Crame Custodial Center since February 2017, facing multiple drug cases that her supporters, including international rights groups, insist were fabricated.


In his affidavit notarized on April 30 in Pasig City but made public on Monday, Ragos alleged that then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II had “coerced” him into testifying against De Lima.

This followed the retraction of another key witness, Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa, who said he had been “misled by the police” into signing his affidavit against the senator in exchange for the dropping of charges against him. (See related story on Page A4.)

De Leon said the DOJ should “do the right thing” by launching an investigation into how the frame-up job, part of an alleged “sinister plot” of the Duterte administration, occurred and to uncover the people behind it.

In a series of tweets, De Lima acknowledged Ragos’ change of heart, saying she hoped others would follow suit.

“Five years too late but still appreciated. May others involved in the fabricated cases against me also find their conscience. Our fight continues for truth and justice,” the senator said in Filipino.

“I’ve been detained for over five years and waiting for this moment. More than five years of injustice. Despite this, I am grateful for the strengthening and the revelation of the truth of my innocence and those who conspired to malign, intimidate and silence me,” De Lima said.


Ragos, a star witness in one of the two remaining drug-related cases against De Lima, recanted his allegations that the senator received two bags each containing P5 million from the national penitentiary’s drug trade and that it was Aguirre who “coerced” and “forced” him to come up with such testimonies.

Ragos said he could not help but “come out with the truth” and apologize to De Lima after more than five years since she was arrested.

Speaking to a group of select reporters, including one from the Inquirer, Ragos said his retraction should acquit De Lima.

“Hindi ko ginusto ito. Pasensya na. (I never wanted this. I am sorry),” Ragos, who broke into tears, told reporters. “I just want to clear something that has been on my chest for so long.”

In his affidavit, Ragos narrated how he was “interrogated and coerced” by Aguirre and some officials of the DOJ and the National Bureau of Investigation.

In various hearings, Ragos appeared before the House committee on justice and alleged that De Lima and her former bodyguard, Ronnie Dayan, received cash that he supposedly hand-delivered to the former’s residence.

De Lima, Ragos, and Dayan were all named respondents by state prosecutors in a drug-related case at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204, until Ragos was struck off as co-accused and became a witness against the senator.

In September 2016, Ragos, who had served as NBI deputy director for intelligence, came up with an affidavit stating that he, along with former NBI agent Jovencio Ablen Jr., delivered two bags each containing P5 million as De Lima’s “share” in the money allegedly produced from the drug trade.

He claimed the money came from Wang Tuan Yuan alias Peter Co, a convicted drug lord detained at NBP.


“There was never any money delivered to my quarters,” Ragos said. “Even if there was, I would have immediately conducted an investigation and filed (cases) against the responsible individuals.”

However, he said it was true that he went to the residence of De Lima, not to deliver any dirty money alongside Ablen, but to help the then justice secretary to decorate her house for Christmas along with his wife.

“All of my allegations to the contrary in my affidavits and House and court testimonies are all fiction, false, and fabricated,” he added, stressing that he was only “forced” to implicate De Lima and Dayan “due to threats of being detained myself for the crime of engaging in the illegal drug trade that I did not commit.”

“I couldn’t do anything back then,” Ragos said. “If the justice secretary himself is coercing you, what will you do?”

Apart from Aguirre, Ragos also tagged several people whom he said had either “pressured” or made his life miserable when he was arrested.

He named former Justice Undersecretary Raymund Mecate, whom he described as the “right-hand” man of Aguirre who “persistently pressured” him to further implicate De Lima.

Ragos said NBI Deputy Directors Rachel Angeles and Vicente de Guzman also “made my life difficult during my detention.”

Another official that he named was prosecutor Laurence Joel Taliping, whom Ragos believed was his “handling prosecutor” in the case.

The Inquirer had tried to reach Aguirre through calls and several text messages and via Viber, but he had not responded at press time.

‘Pure hogwash’

Malacañang is leaving it to the court to evaluate the evidence against De Lima after Ragos’ retraction.

Acting presidential spokesperson Martin Andanar on Monday also branded as “pure hogwash” the claims of De Lima’s lawyer that the government went as far as fabricating testimonies against her.

Key opposition figures led by Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday said that De Lima should not be made to spend another day in jail after Ragos’s retraction.

In separate statements, Robredo, her running mate Sen. Francis Pangilinan and senatorial candidates Chel Diokno and Sonny Trillanes said the retraction was proof that the charges against De Lima were nothing but smoke.

Diokno, a human rights lawyer, called on Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to put the prosecutors handling De Lima’s case on temporary leave while they investigate the issue.

Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, also said on Monday that the decision of two key state witnesses to take back their testimonies against De

Lima only proved that the legal system had been used against government critics.


Another witness retracts accusations vs De Lima, says he was ‘coerced’

De Lima on Ragos retraction: ‘Five years too late but still appreciated’

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DOJ to tap Ombudsman to act on Ragos affidavit

TAGS: Leila de Lima, Rafael Ragos

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