De Lima’s legal team says her cases should be reviewed by different panel of prosecutors

Detained Senator Leila de Lima’s legal team said her cases pending in Muntinlupa courts should be reviewed by a different panel of prosecutors.

Her lawyers reacted after outgoing Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told the media that a panel of prosecutors advised to continue with De Lima’s cases.

Senator Leila de Lima is being escorted by the police after attending a hearing at the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice in February 2019 (Jonathan Hicap)

“The panel of prosecutors has advised that, after a thorough review of the evidence already presented as well as evidence still to be presented, there is good reason to continue the active prosecution of the senator,” Guevarra said.

Rafael Ragos, the government’s key witness in one of the senator’s drug cases, recanted all his testimonies and affidavits, particularly his accusation that he delivered P10 million to De Lima’s house in Paranaque in 2012.

Ronnie Dayan, the senator’s former aide, also made a judicial affidavit and recanted his statements.

According to De Lima’s legal team, "If the review was done by the same DOJ Panel of Prosecutors whom Ragos said were perfectly aware that his testimony was just manufactured and all lies, then the review is worthless. The review should be undertaken by prosecutors who are not tainted by Ragos's accusation of participating in the manufacture of evidence."

About those who retracted their statements, Guevarra said, “As far as the retractions of certain persons are concerned, the prosecution takes the position that until these persons are actually presented in court for examination to ascertain their truthfulness, their alleged recantations have no probative value whatsoever.”

Guevarra will be replaced by Cavite 7th District Rep. Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla who earlier said he will study De Lima’s cases.

“It’s up to Congressman Remulla, but I think he will also be guided by the assessment of the panel of prosecutors who are actually handling the trial of the cases,” said Guevarra.

The DOJ filed three cases of illegal drug trading against De Lima in February 2017, which it later changed to conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.

One of the three cases was dismissed by a Muntinlupa court in February 2021 and two are pending.

De Lima has been detained at Camp Crame for more than five years after a Muntinlupa court issued a warrant of arrest against her. She surrendered to authorities on Feb. 24, 2017.

The senator has maintained that all the cases that were filed against her were fabricated.