De Lima says accusers backpedaling 'too late' but 'appreciated'

"Five years too late but still appreciated."

Senator Leila De Lima (Photo courtesy of Leila De Lima Facebook Page)

This was how detained Senator Leila De Lima took the news on her accusers' move to retract the drug allegations against her which put her to jail five years ago.

On Monday, May 2, former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Marcos Z. Ragos recanted his testimonies which implicated De Lima in the alleged illegal drugs trade at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City under her watch as the secretary of Justice.

This came after self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa also took back his claims against the senator on Thursday, April 28.

Ragos said he was forced to admit "something that did not happen" while Espinosa disclosed that all his statements against De Lima in the past are false and are only the result of intimidation and threats.

"Five years too late but still appreciated. Sana makonsensya na rin lahat ng nasangkot sa gawa-gawang kaso laban sa akin. Patuloy po ang laban natin para sa katotohanan at hustisya (I hope all involved in the trumped up cases against me would exercise their conscience. The fight for the truth and justice continues)," the senator said.

The former Justice Secretary turned lawmaker further said that no matter how late, justice will still be served.

"It appears, after all, that justice will still be served, no matter how late. Five years too late. But indeed, Truth often bides its time. It patiently waits and is never vanquished," she said.

She also went on and said she has been waiting for this moment. Regardless of how long the wait is, De Lima is thankful that the truth proving her innocence is finally coming out.

"Mahigit 5 taon na akong ipinakulong at naghihintay sa pagkakataong ito. Mahigit 5 taon ng inhustisya (I was detained for over five years and I have been waiting for this moment. Over five years of injustice)," De Lima said.

In her earlier statement, De Lima said she has already forgiven those who were used behind her detention and encouraged others to come out in the open to reveal the truth.

READ MORE: De Lima calls on other accusers to follow Espinosa's move, expose what they know

'Time to set De Lima free'

The recent developments came days before the election day, which makes De Lima's allies to call for her immediate release so she can at least be with them in the campaigns for the first time during the miting de avance.

De Lima is seeking reelection under Vice President Leni Robredo's ticket.

Former senator Antonio Trillanes IV joined the call to free De Lima now that her accusers are taking back their drug allegations against her.

"With the recent retraction made by key witnesses of their testimonies in the bogus charges filed against sitting Sen. Leila De Lima, this saga has but one logical conclusion: free Sen. De Lima and hold accountable those responsible for this great injustice," Trillanes said in a statement on Monday.

"It is now time to set Sen. De Lima free. Her ordeal at the hands of the administration has been nothing short of painful and extremely demoralizing. Kung kaya nila itong gawin sa isang senador, paano pa kaya ang mga taong hindi kayang ipagtanggol ang kanilang mga sarili (If they can do this to a senator, how much more to someone who cannot defend himself)? the senatorial candidate added.

Trillanes also commended Ragos for coming forward to recant his testimony and encouraged other accusers to do the same. saying "now is the time to let your conscience decide for you."

Robredo, vice presidential aspirant Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, and senatorial bet Jose Manuel "Chel" Diokno had also called for the immediate release of De Lima.