Lagman: Marcos Jr. can prod DOJ prosecutors to drop case vs Leila de Lima | Inquirer News

Lagman: Marcos Jr. can prod DOJ prosecutors to drop case vs Leila de Lima

/ 09:00 PM October 12, 2022
Lagman: Marcos Jr. can prod DOJ prosecutors to drop case vs Leila de Lima

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman. INQUIRER.net file photo / NOY MORCOSO

MANILA, Philippines — While Malacañang is correct in saying it cannot interfere in the case against former senator Leila de Lima, an opposition lawmaker reminded President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. that he could actually order prosecutors from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to drop the case.

Liberal Party (LP) president and Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman asserted on Wednesday that the matter is still within Marcos’ “control and supervision” because prosecutors are under the DOJ, and the department is under the executive branch of government.

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“President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is perfectly correct in desisting from meddling with the courts in the cases of former Senator Leila de Lima, but he must be reminded that while the adjudication of criminal cases belongs to the judiciary, the prosecution of such cases is an executive function under his control and supervision pursuant to the Constitution,” Lagman said in a statement.

“It is not intruding into the domain of the courts when the President would order prosecutors to move for the dismissal of criminal cases where inculpatory evidence is lacking, like in the two remaining cases of De Lima where major prosecution witnesses have recanted, or order prosecutors to withdraw opposition to De Lima’s petition for bail because the evidence of guilt is not strong against her,” he added.

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De Lima is still detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame for drug-related charges. However, she was transferred to the PNP General Hospital after a fellow inmate took her hostage last Sunday.

After the incident, calls grew for the government to free her after several cases against de Lima were either dismissed or dropped. However, Office of the Press Secretary officer-in-charge Undersecretary Cheloy Garafil said that the President leaves De Lima’s cases up to her lawyers and the courts.

READ: Call for de Lima’s release mounts online after foiled hostage attempt 

On the other hand, Lagman stressed that de Lima is not a flight risk like former Senate president Juan Ponce Enrile, who was allowed by the courts to post bail even if the plunder charges against him were non-bailable because of the former senator’s health and age.

“Moreover, De Lima is not a flight risk just like former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile who was granted bail by the Supreme Court while facing plunder cases since his appearance in trials is assured and he would not evade the court’s jurisdiction because of his public record, age, and frailty of health,” Lagman said.

“The ruling of the High Court in Enrile was based not so much on the quantum of evidence against him or the enormity of the punishment for his criminal offense but principally because he was not a flight risk,” he added.

De Lima was detained for drug-related charges, allegedly allowing the proliferation of, and supposedly benefitting from, the illegal drug trade inside jail facilities when she was Justice secretary.

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The former senator, a staunch critic of the past administration, claimed that she is a political prisoner and was merely detained for initiating probes on the war against illegal drugs of former president Rodrigo Duterte. The ex-president, however, said it was de Lima who made the world believe she was a prisoner of conscience.

READ: ‘Greatest frame-up’ unraveling – De Lima lawyer 

Last August, she called on the new administration to review the cases against her, after convicted drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa — the person that was allegedly bribed by the former senator, supposedly in exchange for protection — recanted his statements.

Espinosa’s recantation was followed by the admission of another prosecution witness, former Bureau of Corrections head Rafael Ragos. Former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II allegedly coerced him to deliver his testimonies against De Lima. With reports from Alyssa Joy Quevedo, INQUIRER.net trainee

RELATED STORIES:

Kerwin Espinosa recants drug trade accusations vs Sen. Leila de Lima 

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

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TAGS: charges, DoJ, Edcel Lagman, Leila de Lima, prosecutor
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