De Lima camp asks Muntinlupa prosecutor to overturn decision favoring prisoner

Published October 7, 2021, 4:41 PM

by Jonathan Hicap

Lawyers of detained Sen. Leila de Lima have asked the Muntinlupa Prosecutor’s Office to reverse its decision dismissing the complaint they filed against a prisoner and prosecution witness for trading and selling illegal drugs in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa.

In July, De Lima and her lawyers filed the complaints before the prosecutor’s office against prisoner Joel Capones and his gang mates.

Capones is a prosecution witness against De Lima in her drug case pending before a Muntinlupa court.

Their basis was Capones’ confession during a hearing in one of De Lima’s drug cases in February that he traded drugs in NBP.

The complainants argued that up to now, Capones has not been charged with any crime in relation to his court confession.

However, the Muntinlupa Prosecutor’s Office dismissed the complaints against Capones in a resolution dated Aug. 31 for insufficient evidence.

“Complainants in this case failed to substantiate their allegations of the drug trade or conspiracy to commit drug trade insofar as the respondents are concerned. The evidence submitted, lamentably, is insufficient to engender a belief, that is well founded, that the alleged crimes were committed,” according to the resolution.

In their motion for reconsideration filed on Oct. 5, De Lima’s lawyers said the prosecutor committed “grave yet reversible error” in deciding that a judicial confession made by Capones is not a sufficient ground for conviction, unless corroborated by evidence of corpus delicti.

During the court hearing, Capones confessed to packing and selling shabu with his mayores.

Capones waived his right against self-incrimination before making the confession in open court.

“Right from the very start, since what they filed against Senator De Lima are supposed to be drug cases, we have constantly asked the question: ‘where is the corpus delicti?’ and despite its absence, they went on to file charges against the good Senator who is detained for almost 5 years now,” said Atty. Dino de Leon, one of De Lima’s legal counsels, in a separate statement.

He added, “Now, in the complaint against Capones charging him with the exact same offense and based on the exact same alleged incidents used in the case against the Senator, the Department of Justice refuses to do its sworn mandate to prosecute criminals who have committed atrocious acts against the people even after he confessed in open court to have committed drug trading.”

“You can see a clear double standard in how the Executive is handling justice in the last 5 years: they vigorously prosecute an innocent Senator to ensure that she will continue to be detained even in the absence of the corpus delicti and based purely on fabrications, but in the case of a self-confessed drug lord, the Executive refuses to lift a finger. War on drugs ba ito, or war against political enemies to gag them into submission?,” he said.

In their motion, De Lima’s lawyers said the Muntinlupa prosecutor failed to properly consider the judicial confession of Capones as sufficient evidence to establish probable cause.

“The Honorable Prosecutor acknowledged that the evidence of absolute certainty of guilt is not required in the determination of probable cause but he bookended his findings with the reiteration that the overarching finding of probable cause is based on opinion and reasonable belief. He further proceeds to mention that even with the extrajudicial confession, such is not a sufficient ground for conviction,” they said.

They said the prosecutor should not turn a blind eye to the confession of Capones and neglect his duty to uncover the truth.

“For what else would convince an average reasonable person that a crime was actually committed? An average reasonable person would definitely strongly consider a free and voluntary confession to a crime that was made before a judge and hold it to be sufficient evidence to indict a person,” they said.

Citing statement from the Supreme Court, De Lima’s lawyers said that a confession is evidence of a high order that is “supported by the strong presumption that no sane person or one of normal mind will deliberately and knowingly confess himself to be the perpetrator of a crime, unless prompted by truth and conscience.”