Duterte confident of De Lima's prosecution but claims Robredo will grant pardon if she wins as president

President Duterte remained confident that the Executive Department could still prosecute detained Senator Leila de Lima for drug charges but said the effort would be for nothing if Vice President Leni Robredo wins as president.

President Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo, and Senator Leila de Lima (file photos)

Duterte made this statement after self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos recanted their testimonies against the lady lawmaker.

In an interview with his close friend Pastor Apollo Quiboloy on his TV network SMNI, the President still believes that De Lima could be charged for her involvement in the illegal drug trade.

"Overall, we think we can still prosper in the prosecution of De Lima," he said.

However, Duterte thinks De Lima may eventually leave her cell if Vice President Robredo wins as president in the May 9, 2022 elections.

"Kung manalo ang kandidato nilang presidente, ito lang, ito-- pardon 'yan. 'Wag kang mag-alala, pardon 'yan or nabayaran (If their candidate wins as president, she will grant pardon. Don't fret, it's pardon or they paid up)," he said.

"Kaya kung mananalo 'yan si Leni Robredo, pardon 'yan si De Lima pati yung ano (Espinosa). 'Yan mamili kayo (If Leni Robredo wins, she will pardon De Lima and Espinosa. It's your choice)," he added.

"Tignan mo kung nanalo 'yan diyan, pardon 'yan, si Espinosa (If she wins, she will grant pardon, for Espinosa)," he continued.

Both Espinosa and Ragos claimed that they were coerced to make statements to implicate De Lima in the drug trade. Espinosa initially claimed to have paid De Lima payout drug money through her bodyguard Ronnie Dayan while Ragos claimed that he delivered cash on two occasions to De Lima’s home as instructed by a convict in 2012.

This week, Ragos said former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre threatened him to make "fiction, false and fabricated" statements against De Lima.

In his interview with Quiboloy, President Duterte suspected Ragos was bribed to recant his allegations. He also refused to believe that Aguirre threatened Ragos to make false accusations against De Lima.

"Si Ragos ganoon din, pera 'yan-- pera-pera 'yan. Nag-retire na 'yan. Ang retirement siguro mag-abot lang ng mga range of about P15 million to 18 . Hindi na maglampas diyan (It's about the money for Ragos. He is already retired and probably received around P15 million to P18 million, no more than that)," he said.

"Pag 'yan lang nakuha mo, tapos nabuhay ka hanggang the age of 90, yung P15 million na 'yan, in three to four years, wala na yan, kulangin talaga. Pagdating mo ng 85, magkasakit ka, wala ka nang pangmedisina, tapos na 'yan (If that's all you got and you lived up to 90 years old, that P15 million will be gone in three to four years. When you reach 85 years old an get sick, you have no money for medicine, you're finished)," he added.

Duterte claimed that De Lima got the money to pay Ragos from drug lords.

"Saan kunin ni De Lima yung pera? Drug lords. Siya yung napreso dahil-- tinutulungan na rin siya ngayon, sigurado (Where would De Lima get the money? From the drug lords. She's in jail because of them so I'm sure they're helping her now)," he said.

"Walang tao na magpunta sa korte tapos mag-recant ka ng ganoon after a few years. Pera-pera 'yan (No person would go to court just to recant their statement after a few years. It's all about the money)," he added.