Government should charge convict-witness for illegal drug trading, De Lima camp says

Published February 26, 2021, 11:19 AM

by Jonathan Hicap

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima’s legal counsel said the government should charge prosecution witness and convict Joel Capones after he admitted in court that he traded and sold illegal drugs at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa.

Senator Leila de Lima is seen leaving the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice on Feb. 23 after attending a hearing in one of her drug cases (Office of Sen. De Lima / MANILA BULLETIN)

Boni Tacardon, the senator’s legal counsel, said they have filed a motion with the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 256 to include Capones in case 17-167.

Under the case, De Lima, former Bureau of Corrections director Franklin Jesus Bucayu, Wilfredo Elli, Jaybee Sebastian, Ronnie Dayan, Joenel Sanchez and Jose Adrian Dera are charged with conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.

They are accused of using NBP inmates to sell and trade dangerous drugs using mobile phones and other electronic devices, and getting P70 million between March 2013 and May 2015.

Capones testified last Feb. 23 at the hearing in Muntinlupa that was attended by De Lima.

“We have filed a motion to include Joel Capones as an accused in the case because he admitted that he and his ‘mayores’ sold illegal drugs in and out of Bilibid,” Tacardon said.

In his testimony, Capones said he committed illegal drug trading within the NBP, together with his 13 “mayores” (leader) in Sigue Sigue Sputnik, from January to October 2014.

De Lima’s camp said despite this, Capones was not included as an accused in the case or any drug case for that matter.

The senator also sent a letter to Justice Sec. Menardo Guevarra urging him to prosecute anyone involved in the illegal drug trading in NBP without favor, including Capones and the 13 mayores.

Tacardon said they will still cross-examine Capones in court. In a Twitter post, De Lima likened Capones to BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, former National Bureau of Investigation agent Jovencio Ablen Jr., and Bilibid inmate Engelberto Durano whom she accused of being “perjured witnesses.”

“His [Capones] story about my alleged receipt of drug money from Jaybee Sebastian (now deceased, killed, I strongly believe) is a blatant lie,” said De Lima.

Prosecutor Ramoncito Ocampo said, “We were able to conclude the testimony of Joel Capones on direct examination. His testimony is very clear as far as we are concerned. We leave it to the court for its decision on our evidence as far as the testimony of Joel Capones.”

“When he remitted the money to Jaybee Sebastian, he saw Jaybee Sebastian give the money to Jad Dera inside the ‘bahay na bato’ which is being used as residence or office of the late Jaybee Sebastian,” Ocampo added.