DOJ’s decision to proceed with prosecution ‘pains’ De Lima
MANILA, Philippines — A frustrated Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday expressed dismay over the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to continue prosecuting her drug cases despite several witnesses retracting their allegations against her.
“It pains me that the very institution that I served faithfully has failed in its foremost, noble task to protect the innocent,” De Lima, a former justice secretary, said in a dispatch from Camp Crame where is currently detained.
“Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s decision to adopt the position of the DOJ Panel of Prosecutors to continue prosecuting my cases in spite of categorical claims of coercion of witnesses is plainly a safe and nonchalant gesture. It is devoid of any effort to dig deeper[ into] the wider scheme of things behind my persecution by [President Rodrigo] Duterte. It is nothing but a worthless, unsubstantial table review,” she said.
She described Guevarra’s decision as “frustrating but not at all surprising or unexpected.”
“I guess it was wishful thinking to expect anything different from Sec. Guevarra. Regrettably, it is still a Pontius Pilate act when he simply relied on the so-called ‘assessment’ of the very panel of prosecutors handling the cases,” she said.
“It is doubtful that Sec. Guevarra even read the recantation of Rafael Ragos where it was revealed that early on, Ragos already told the members of this panel not to expect his testimony to be perfect, given that it was all made up [of] lies and forced upon him by former SOJ Vitaliano Aguirre. Did he even confront the panel of prosecutors as to the truth of Ragos’s accusations against them?” De Lima added.
Aguirre had earlier denied coercing Ragos.
Following a “thorough review” of remaining evidence in De Lima’s cases, Guevarra said the panel of prosecutors in the drug-related charges against the detained senator saw “good reason” to proceed with the prosecution.
On the retraction of several witnesses against De Lima, Guevarra had made it clear that the “prosecution takes the position that until these persons are actually presented in court for examination to ascertain their truthfulness, their alleged recantations have no probative value whatsoever.”
“One thing is clear. Up to the end of his term, Sec. Guevarra is minded to stand by the lies and manufactured evidence of the Duterte government, not wanting to displease his principal,” De Lima went on.
“He is, after all, Duterte’s alter ego. Never mind justice. Never mind fair play. Never mind that an innocent person was kept in jail for the past 5 years, and counting, without real evidence except [for] the lies of mostly convicted felons. Never mind the truth,” she added.
De Lima, who ran for reelection but lost in the 2022 polls, has been detained since February 2017 over what she has repeatedly called as “trumped-up” charges against her.
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