Gordon: DOJ should expedite probe on witnesses’ retractions on de Lima

Senator Richard Gordon on Thursday said the Department of Justice (DOJ) should fast track its investigations on the retraction of two key witnesses who initially implicated Senator Leila de Lima in the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP).

“Sen. De Lima is being persecuted by spurious witnesses who are now recanting their testimony. That's why it is important that the DOJ must immediately step in and conduct the investigation as soon as possible, otherwise they should let her go,” Gordon said in an interview on CNN Philippines’ The Source.

Gordon was among those who voted to remove de Lima as chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights after the latter launched an inquiry into the extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.

Now both Gordon and de Lima are running for re-election under Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s tandem. De Lima had welcomed Gordon’s inclusion in the group’s senatorial slate.

Gordon said the retraction of self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Rafael Ragos only “shows how sloppy the case has been.”

“It's been five years, six years. It even violates what we call due process because every person is entitled to speedy disposition for cases, the right to confront witnesses and to make sure the trial proceeds so that there is no need for unnecessary incarceration that would happen,” the re-electionist senator said.

“If the government cannot speed up the inquiry, the Department of Justice (DOJ) would have to need to conduct an immediate investigation and if they have notice, that the case be immediately dismissed. That is my position,” he stressed.

“The DOJ is the lawyer of the govenment. It is in charge of all the prosecutors of our country and if there is any wrongdoing here that constitutes graft and corruption, then the Ombudsman can come in. Or we can form a special inquiry, a special board of investigation that they have done with the Aquino cases in the past to ferret out,” he further added.

De Lima’s case, according to Gordon, is a case with primordial importance to the country, given that a sitting senator has been accused and detained for the last six years.

“Practically (she) has not been able to undertake her duties as senator. I really don't want to go in the guilt or innocence of Sen. De Lima, but certainly I want to go to the area where why the witnesses of the government are going back on their duties because they've already given their testimony,” Gordon pointed out.

“The primary person responsible should be the Secretary of Justice to investigate,” the lawmaker stressed.