The government will review the illegal drug charges against detained Senator Leila de Lima after several witnesses withdrew their testimonies against her, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.
DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the recantations must be made in court, adding that “the DOJ always reviews the evidence presented in a case. We are doing the same with De Lima’s, recantations or otherwise.”
“But of course, retractions have to be presented in court, not before the media,” Guevarra, in an ABS-CBN news report, said.
Guevarra added that recanting witnesses must be cross-examined in court. “For now, we can’t say which is the truth–the original testimony, or the recantation? This must be closely examined. The DOJ will accept the truth that comes out,” he said.
In April, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa recanted all his allegations against De Lima. during a 2016 Senate hearing. Espinosa claimed that he gave a total of P8 million in drug money to De Lima when the latter was Justice Secretary, through her former driver, Ronnie Dayan.
Former Bureau of Corrections OIC Rafael Ragos also recanted his testimony earlier. He claimed that he delivered P10 million in drug money to De Lima’s house in Parañaque.
Dayan testified that no delivery of drug money to De Lima’s house ever happened and he also recanted his earlier testimony before the House of Representatives that he supposedly received drug money from Espinosa.
Another prosecution witness, Joel Capones said that he does not know and did not have any transactions with De Lima.
Marcelo Adorco, a key government witness against Espinosa, took back his allegations against the self-confessed drug lord, including a claim against De Lima.
One of the three drug cases against De Lime was dismissed in February last year.
De Lima meanwhile said she is grateful to her colleague, Sen. Ralph Recto, for making a plea to the incoming administration to free her.
“My profound gratitude for your farewell speech yesterday in which you honor me and call for my freedom,” she said in a handwritten letter to Recto. “I am moved and humbled by the gesture and greatly pleased with the importance and forcefulness of the words therein,” she added.
In the said address during the last session day of the 18th Congress, Recto urged the “President-elect,” referring to Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to free De Lima, who has been languishing in jail for more than five years now due to trumped-up and politically-motivated drug charges.
“Another feisty lady worthy of our respect is Leila de Lima, a prisoner of conscience, punished for her courage, but whose spirit no prison walls could contain. Trolls put her behind bars. The truth shall set her free,” the Senator from Batangas said. “Mr. President-elect, free Leila,” Recto added.
The lady Senator from Bicol said she couldn’t agree more with Recto as she is now focusing on the dismissal of bogus drug cases against her.
Prior to Recto, Sen. Grace Poe also expressed her solidarity with De Lima in her speech giving tribute to eight outgoing Senators, saying, “Senator Leila is unbroken, but her incarceration is proof that our justice system is broken.”