Drilon wants those who coerced witnesses in De Lima case to be punished
MANILA, Philippines — Those who forced witnesses into providing distorted testimonies against ex-Senator Leila de Lima should be held accountable, said former Senate President Franklin Drilon on Tuesday.
Drilon’s statement was issued after a Muntinlupa court granted De Lima’s appeal to post bail in her remaining drug case.
The former Senate chief said he was “very happy that the rule of law has prevailed,” but he likewise stressed: Who will answer for the sufferings of de Lima due to unwarranted charges?
“Sa akin dapat maparusahan kung sinoman ang gumawa nitong kaso na talagang lahat ay kasinungalingan. Uulitin ko lang, hindi pwede na ganun na lang. Ang dapat ay may managot dito.”
(I think whoever made this case made of lies against de Lima should be punished. I’ll say it again: it can’t be just like that. Someone should be held accountable for this.)
Citing former Bureau of Corrections chief Rafael Ragos’ testimony, Drilon recalled that former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre was implicated in coercing Ragos into “signing pre-written affidavits against de Lima.”
Drilon then stressed that if proven true, Aguirre could be held accountable for the crime of subordination of perjury.
“This is a mistake that is punishable under the Revised Penal Code, specifically subordination for perjury. When you force a witness to lie in order to indict someone,” he explained, partly in Filipino.
Drilon then noted that the development of de Lima’s case indicated that the Philippine justice system must be improved.
According to Drilon, a “thorough examination” of the procedure that led to the prosecution of de Lima is needed, as well as an investigation into her nearly seven years of detention.
De Lima’s resilience, unwavering commitment to truth
House deputy minority leader and Basilan Representative Mujiv Hataman, on the other hand, said de Lima’s release was seven years too late.
“But I am still very happy that finally, former Sen. de Lima can now enjoy the freedom she has been deprived of for a very long time,” said Hataman in a statement on Tuesday.
Despite being a victim of political prosecution, Hataman commended de Lima’s “resilience and unwavering commitment to the truth.”
“Through it all, Senator de Lima has remained steadfast. She stood strong. This court decision is not just about her freedom; it’s about rectifying what many believe was an unfair treatment in the eyes of the law,” said Hataman.
He likewise noted that de Lima’s breakthrough reminds the public to reflect on the importance of “upholding human rights and the rule of law.”
“[N]awa’y ma-enjoy ni Sen. Leila ang kanyang kalayaan at maipagpatuloy ang kanyang paglilingkod sa bayan na naudlot dahil sa kabanatang ito,” Hataman added.
(I hope Sen. Leila enjoys her freedom, and I hope she can continue her service to the people that was interrupted because of this chapter.)