Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima has asked Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to review the ‘’trumped-up’’ drug cases filed against her by the Department of Justice (DOJ) following witness’s retraction of testimony against her in relation to illegal drugs.
In a letter addressed to Guevarra dated May 5, De Lima brought to his attention the affidavit of former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Deputy Director and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge (OIC) Rafael Ragos recanting his testimony against her given before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 (Case Number: 17-165).
The letter of De Lima, herself a former DOJ secretary, states:
“There is a need for the DOJ to review the drug cases it filed against me to determine if indeed these were prosecuted by the Panel of Prosecutors even after being told by Ragos that his testimony and all his allegations against me ‘are all lies’.
“This review should include the other case as well (Criminal Case No. 17-167) because if the Panel of Prosecutors that handles both cases are capable of suborning false testimony in one case, then nothing prevents them from doing the same in the other cases,” she said.
“If upon review, it is determined that Ragos’s statements are true, then all the cases against me should be immediately withdrawn by the DOJ in order to prevent a further miscarriage of justice where, even after these revelations indicating prosecutorial misconduct amounting to the criminal offense of subornation of perjury, the DOJ will still continue prosecuting said cases.’’
Ragos is a principal witness in one of two cases against De Lima pending at the Muntinlupa RTC.
He was one of the senator’s co-accused in one case before the government prosecution filed an Amended Information that changed the crime imputed against De Lima from “illegal drug trading” to “conspiracy to trade illegal drugs,” and excluded him from the case in exchange for his false testimony against the Senator.
In his affidavit, notarized on April 30, 2022 in Pasig, Ragos retracted his previous statements, affidavits, and court testimonies that he delivered money to De Lima and her former aide Ronnie Dayan.
In paragraph 28 of the affidavit, De Lima noted how it appears that the DOJ Panel of Prosecutors presented Ragos’s testimony in court knowing it to be false and fabricated.
“Ragos told the prosecutors that they should not expect him ‘to manufacture perfectly plausible testimony because these are all lies” and that “the allegations against Senator De Lima never happened,’” she stressed.
In light of Ragos’s revelations, De Lima said the DOJ should likewise “review the glaring facts in these cases which earlier on already indicated a premeditated conspiracy among DOJ and other high government officials to fabricate drug cases against me.”
De Lima said these include, among others, the orchestration by former DOJ Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II of the trial by publicity conducted against her both in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and his coercion of DOJ employees to admit falsely that they received money and held bank accounts for my benefit.
She said that Aguirre had previously attempted to use a fake deposit slip as evidence against De Lima, only to be proven false given that the date on the slip was a holiday.
The fake document was quickly shot down when the former DOJ employee that Aguirre tried to coerce publicly stated her denial in a Facebook post in September 2016, around the same time other witnesses against De Lima were being paraded by Aguirre.
At the time, the employee expressed her surprise when Aguirre presented her with the fake bank deposit slips saying, "Laking gulat ko na ang inihain sa harapan ko ay BDO bank receipt amounting P24 million for the month of March and April 2014, kalakip ng mga pictures namin ni Senator De Lima.”
Besides the anomalous date on one slip, she pointed out that it was “impossible” for her to use her nickname in bank receipts.
The lady senator from Bicol likewise said the DOJ should review the recent retraction of self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa in his counter-affidavit before the NBI, where he categorically stated that he was just forced to implicate her in the drug trade out of fear for his own life.
In ending her letter, De Lima said she hopes that her “most urgent matter” would merit Guevarra’s earnest attention and action.
“As Duterte’s term comes to an end, the DOJ can no longer afford to continue being blind to these facts that clearly indicate a pattern of witness coercion and bribery in order to fabricate drug cases against me and send me to jail,” she said.