2 more witnesses recant testimonies vs De Lima
MANILA, Philippines — Two more government witnesses have recanted their testimonies against former Sen. Leila de Lima in her remaining drug charge.
In a letter sent to De Lima on Thursday, Oct. 12, dismissed police Insp. (a major) Rodolfo Magleo and former PO3 (a sergeant) Nonilo Arile said they recanted “for several reasons with the primordial objective—to help you both to be set free together with your fellow coaccused.”
“We are bothered by our conscience. We do not want you to be a victim of mistrial. We will reveal in due time. We are assuring you all that the last case will be dismissed,” their letter read.
Magleo and Arile added that they planned to recant as early as 2018 but could not do so “due to impossibility of communication.”
Five additional unidentified witnesses will retract their statements in the coming days, following their successful persuasion, as mentioned in the letter.
2 among 13 convicts
De Lima has been detained for more than six years after the Duterte administration filed charges alleging her involvement in the illegal drug trade during her stint as justice secretary.
The two witnesses were among the 13 criminal convicts who allegedly took part in the illegal drug trading inside New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in 2016.
Their recantation adds to the number of witnesses who have retracted their testimonies, including former Bureau of Corrections officer in charge Rafael Ragos, against the former senator.
Last July, this final drug case was raffled to Judge Gener Gito of the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 2016 after the inhibition of two judges.
In September 2018, a Muntinlupa City court handling one of the drug trading cases against former De Lima approved the use of 13 convicts as state witnesses against her.
Among the government’s witnesses serving sentences at NBP were Arile and Magleo.
Linked to drug dealer
Arile testified in October 2016 that De Lima had ties with drug dealer Jaybee Sebastian who set her up with Chinese drug lords in the Bilibid while Magleo submitted affidavits to the House of Representatives in September 2016 saying that De Lima was paid millions to give preferential treatment to Sebastian.
Arile was convicted of kidnapping and murder while Magleo was convicted along with six others, in 2004 for kidnapping veterinary student Niño Lorenzo Tobiano in 2001.
Magleo was also the chair of the Kalasag organization, a group of former officials detained at the NBP.
In July 2023, Arile and Magleo were among those transferred to the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro as part of the government’s efforts to decongest jails and prevent high-profile inmates from continuing their illegal activities.