Marking her 6 years in detention, Leila de Lima asks court to drop drug raps
MANILA, Philippines—Marking her sixth year in detention, former Senator Leila de Lima asked the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204 to dismiss one of the two remaining drug charges filed against her.
In a 32-page motion, de Lima, through her counsel, Teddy Esteban Rigoroso told the court that the case should be dismissed for lack of evidence after former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos wrapped up his testimony retracting the allegations against her.
De Lima, Ragos, and De Lima’s former aide Ronnie Dayan are co-accused in a case for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 particularly Section 5 (sale) in relation to Section 3 (jj trading), Section 26 (b) and Section 28 of the criminal liability of government officials and employees.
In his affidavit, Ragos said that he delivered a total of P10 million to De Lima’s house in November and December 2012.
The money, he claimed, came from the drug trade and would be used purportedly to fund de Lima’s senatorial run.
But in April last year, he recanted his claim, saying he was coerced by former secretary Vitaliano Aguirre to implicate De Lima, a charge Aguirre vehemently denied.
The motion stated that to test the veracity of the retracting witness is to “carefully compare and juxtaposed the circumstances under which each was made, carefully and keenly scrutinized, and the reasons or motives for the change, discriminatingly analyzed.”
“In the case of Ragos, there is no showing during his testimony on recall to the witness stand that he was intimidated by the accused into recanting his original testimony,” read the motion.
“All the more is there no evidence that Ragos recanted his testimony for monetary considerations,” the motion added.
It pointed out that Ragos’ five appearances on recall have met the Supreme Court’s standards in order to admit the testimony of a recanting witness.
With Ragos’ recantation, the former senator’s camp said there is no longer any evidence that she received P10-million money from illegal drug proceeds.
“With Ragos’s retraction, not only is the prosecution’s evidence not strong enough to sustain a denial of the right to bail in a capital offense, it has no evidence at all to sustain a conviction of guilt beyond reasonable doubt,” read the motion.
Without Ragos, De Lima’s camp said no other witnesses have personal knowledge of her supposed involvement in the illegal drug trade. Even the other witnesses have started retracting their testimonies against the Senator.
It reiterated that what happened to De lima is selective persecution due to her being a staunch human rights advocate and critic of the past administration of which, her efforts and advocacies are recognized even by other States.
“Six years is indeed a long time to wait to start the process of restoring a reputation that was the subject of unrelentless, malicious attacks that culminated in the filing of manufactured criminal charges. The least that accused de Lima could ask for is that her vindication might finally begin with the restoration of her freedom,” the motion further stated.