Former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos showed up at the hearing of detained former senator Leila de Lima on Sept. 30 in Muntinlupa but failed to testify.
His lawyer, Michael Christopher de Castro, said Ragos is worried about his security.
Ragos is the key government witness in one the two remaining drug cases filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against De Lima in 2017.
However, in an affidavit he executed on April 30 this year, Ragos recanted all his statements against De Lima and said he did not give P10 million to the senator in 2012 that allegedly came from the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa.
Ragos is the key witness in case 17-165, which charged De Lima and her former aide, Ronnie Dayan, of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading during her time as justice secretary.
In February 2017, the DOJ filed three cases against De Lima for illegal drug trading in Muntinlupa courts.
Ragos originally said that he delivered P10 million to De Lima’s house in Parañaque: P5 million on Nov. 24, 2012 and another P5 million on Dec. 15, 2012.
The DOJ changed the case from illegal drug trading to conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading in 2017. It later removed Ragos as accused in the amended information and became one of the prosecution’s witnesses.
De Lima and Ragos arrived at the Muntinlupa Hall of Justice on Sept. 30 for the hearing of case 17-165 at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 204.
However, Ragos’ lawyer said his client failed to testify due to a pending motion of the prosecution.
De Castro said they tried to present Ragos at the hearing but the court decided to wait for the prosecution’s comments regarding his client.
On behalf of Ragos, De Castro said he has filed with the Muntinlupa court a motion to suppress and expunge all his affidavits, which, he said, were made without an “independent and competent counsel.”
“Naniniwala kami na eventually, lalabas at lalabas rin ang katotohanan kahit na sa ngayon nadelay pa ng kaunti (We believe that the truth will come out eventually despite that there is a slight delay today),” said De Castro.
De Castro revealed that Ragos is worried about his security.
“Pero ang alam ko, for sure, napakalaki ng security concerns niya ngayon and malaki ang takot ng client ko. And so minanifest na rin namin iyan sa court kaninang...kanina. Pero sabi ng judge for due process, kailangan sagutin, kailangang maghintay (But I know, for sure, he has big security concerns and my client has big fear. And we manifested this with the court earlier. But the judge said for due process, it has to be answered, we need to wait),” he added.
De Castro said in filing for the motion to to suppress and expunge all his affidavits, Ragos does not need to affirm his new affidavit recanting his allegations.
“Sa totoo lang, sa pagfile namin ng motion to suppress and expunge yung affidavits ngayon, hindi naman niya talaga kailangan i-affirm kasi lahat ng affidavits na ginawa niya, hindi dapat ebidensiya yon dahil nakasaad sa ating Saligang Batas na kapag ikaw o sino sa atin ay pumirma ng confession na wala kang abogado na tumutulong sa yo at iyong abugado na iyon dapat independent at competent, pwede iyong paburahin (The truth is, when we filed the motion to suppress and expunge the affidavits today, he does not need to affirm because all the affidavits he made should not be evidence because under our Constitution, when you or anyone of us signs a confession without any lawyer helping you and that lawyer should be independent and competent, they can be expunged),” he said.
In his April 30 affidavit, Ragos stated that “all of my allegations to the contrary in my affidavits and House and court testimonies are all fiction, false, and fabricated.”
“In an affidavit dated March, 2017, I stated that the money I delivered to Ronnie Dayan and Sec. De Lima on November 24, 2012 and December 2012 both amounted to five million pesos (P5,000,000.00) each and that the person who called me on the phone was Bilibid inmate Hans Tan who said that the money came from Peter Co and was Sec. De Lima's share in the drug trade,” said Ragos.
He added, ““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.”
“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. As far as I know and based on my professional relationship with Sec. De Lima, she is incapable of doing anything illegal, much less engage in the illegal drug trade or accept money from Bilibid inmates,” he said.
According to Ragos, “I was forced to execute the above affidavits and deliver the above House and court testimonies against Sec. De Lima and Ronnie Dayan due to threats of being detained myself for the crime of engaging in the illegal drug trade that I did not commit.”