De Lima camp hopes Muntinlupa court will dismiss drug case after Ragos’ recantation

Published May 13, 2022, 3:55 PM

by Jonathan Hicap

The camp of detained Senator Leila de Lima is hoping that a Muntinlupa court will dismiss one of the two remaining drug cases she is facing for lack of evidence after star witness Rafael Ragos recanted all his accusations against her.

On May 13, De Lima attended a hearing at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 2014, which is handling case No. 17-165, filed by the Department of Justice in February 2017, accusing her and Ronnie Dayan, her former security aide, of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading that allegedly happened during her stint as justice secretary.

Detained Senator Leila de Lima arrives at the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice on May 13 to attend a hearing in a case filed by the Department of Justice in 2017 (Contributed photo)

The case charged that De Lima and Dayan received P10 million cash on Nov. 24, 2012 and Dec. 15, 2012, which allegedly came from inmates at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, who traded and trafficked dangerous drugs.

In previous testimonies and affidavits, Ragos said he and Jovencio Ablen Jr. delivered the P10 million to De Lima’s residence in Parañaque on the said dates.

Last April 30, however, Ragos executed an affidavit and declared that “all of my allegations to the contrary in my affidavits and House and court testimonies are all fiction, false, and fabricated”. He said he was coerced by former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, who denied the allegations.

“I now hereby declare and make known to the whole world that there is no truth whatsoever to any of these affidavits or House and court testimonies, or any other statement made in the media or other investigatory proceedings, including the Senate and the DOJ, on the delivery of monies to Sec. De Lima or Ronnie Dayan in whatever amount,” said Ragos.

He added, “There was never any money delivered to my quarters. Even if there was, I would have immediately conducted an investigation and filed a case against the responsible individuals, instead of following the instructions of an unknown caller or Hans Tan to deliver a package like an ordinary messenger.”

This prompted De Lima to file on May 6 a manifestation and omnibus motion for “outright dismissal; immediate release; and/or bail ad cautelam” before the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204.

In a decision dated Feb. 17, 2021, Presiding Judge Liezel Aquiatan of the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 205, which previously handled case 17-165, denied De Lima’s demurrer to evidence, which sought to dismiss the case.

Aquiatan ruled that “it is imperative for accused De Lima and Dayan to …explain the P10 million received by them.”

After the hearing on May 13, De Lima’s lawyer, Rolly Francis Peoro, said, “We are hoping, in our arguments, we are very confident that these new developments will give us a favorable ruling regarding our manifestation and motion for another look at our demurrer and bail, and motion. There is no more substantial evidence.”