‘Under advisement’ – Guevarra on De Lima’s plea to file charges vs. detained witness

Published February 23, 2021, 3:16 PM

by Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra said he will “consider carefully” the suggested filing of criminal charges against a convicted gang leader who, detained Sen. Leila de Lima said, “confessed” to illegal drugs trading at the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City.


Guevarra reacted to the letter sent by De Lima who said that Joel Capones Jr. “confessed under oath and in open court that, together with his 13 cohorts in Sigue Sigue Sputnik gang, he committed illegal drugs trading within the NBP from January to October 2014.”

 “I have read Senator De Lima’s letter this morning and I’ll take the matter that she brought to my attention under advisement,” Guevarra told journalists covering the Department of Justice (DOJ).

De Lima, who is detained at the Custodial Center of the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Camp Crame in Quezon City, is facing illegal drug charges before the Muntinlupa City regional trial court (RTC) for her alleged involvement in the narcotics trade at the NBP.

One of the three drugs cases has been dismissed by the trial court on De Lima’s demurrer (a plea to dismiss on claims that the prosecution’s evidence is weak) to evidence. Her remaining two cases are undergoing court proceedings.

 In her letter, De Lima said that Capones is a prosecution witness in one of her cases.

 She said that despite his testimony, “Mr. Capones was not included as an accused in said case or any drug case for that matter.”

She also told Guevarra in her letter:

“It is ironic that despite the Duterte Administration’s supposed dedication to the War on Drugs, convicted felons are still able to appear and testify under oath that they in fact committed illegal drugs trading and yet remain free from prosecution. 

“The inaction of the Department of Justice in holding Mr. Capones to account for his self-confessed criminal acts, despite knowledge of his culpability, is a serious dereliction of duty and puts in question the seriousness of the Duterte Administration’s resolve in fighting crime and illegal drugs.” 

Published reports stated that Capones testified during a hearing last February 16 that he witnessed alleged drug lord Jaybee Sebastian hand over to De Lima P1.4 million in drug money at the “Bahay na Bato” inside the NBP in 2014.

Capones also testified that in December 2013, fellow NBP inmate Sebastian asked him to engage in illegal drugs trading inside and out of the NBP to raise funds for the senatorial bid of De Lima, then DOJ secretary.

 In the course of his testimony, Capones confessed that he transacted illegal drugs on orders of Sebastian because he was convinced and impressed with the latter’s apparent strong influence with the previous administration, particularly with De Lima.

He said that in March 2014, he delivered P1.4 million to Sebastian as quota payment of the shabu drugs that he sold.

He testified that Sebastian personally gave the money to De Lima.