A day after seeking to dismiss one of the three trumped-up drug cases against her, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has asked the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 205 to junk her second drug case citing failure of the Prosecution to present sufficient competent evidence against her.
De Lima, through her lawyers, filed a Demurrer to Evidence for Criminal Case 17-165 last Jan. 8 where she is facing a conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading with her former aide and co-accused Ronnie Dayan.
“After more than three years of prolonged trial, the records of the case show that all of the witnesses failed to adduce sufficient proof that will “sustain a judgment of conviction beyond reasonable doubt,’” she said.
It can be recalled that the Prosecution filed an Amended Information that changed the crime imputed against De Lima from “illegal drug trading” to “conspiracy to trade illegal drugs,” fully realizing that they had no proof of any of illegal drugs allegedly traded.
In this case, the Prosecution accused De Lima for allegedly receiving two payments of P5 million on Nov. 24, 2012 and another P5 million on Dec. 15, 2012 purportedly coming from New Bilibid Prison (NBP) drug trade proceeds to raise funds for her senatorial bid.
In filing her Demurrer, De Lima said the sole alleged witness who purportedly testified that he delivered money to her is her former co-accused, then Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, but the latter fell short of proving that she accepted any delivery at all. The alleged deliveries of money to her house is firmly denied by De Lima, as these “NEVER HAPPENED” or “pure concoction”.
Note that Ragos was earlier tagged as accused in the case, but the Prosecutors dropped him as De Lima’s co-accused in order to use him as a witness against her.
“In fact, even if Ragos were to be given credence – which the Honorable Court is cautioned not to – he himself negated the entire case of the Prosecution, when he allegedly explained one of the deliveries to the Accused as ‘campaign contribution,’” she added.
Thus, De Lima continued, if there had actually been any delivery, which she consistently denies, she maintained that “it was not in the course of any alleged conspiracy to engage in illegal drug trading.”
De Lima stressed that Ragos is the weakest link in the Prosecution’s case because he “has a well-documented, opportunistic tendency to change his testimony to better suit his personal interests at any given time.”
De Lima said Ragos’s credibility is made even weaker by the Prosecution’s own evidence, citing the testimonies of Prosecution witnesses including NBI intelligence agent Jovencio Ablen, Jr., former PNP Intel Chief and now Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, and convicts Hans Anton Tan, Vicente Sy and Peter Co.
She said that they all testified that Ragos “has a derogatory record for being ‘dirty,’” and that he was the one to “whom moneys were delivered at times that suspiciously coincided with his official actions as BuCor OIC.”
Moreover, De Lima noted that none of the witnesses presented by the Prosecution testified to having personal knowledge of the sources of the funds and, aside from Ragos, none testified to having personal knowledge of the alleged delivery to Dayan or De Lima.
“Conveniently, the person who was consistently singled out as the person who would have had personal knowledge thereof, as he is allegedly the one who collected the money, is the one who can no longer defend and testify on his own behalf, i.e., Tony Co, who died back in September 26, 2016 in a staged prison riot that targeted inmates who initially refused to testify against me before the House Justice Committee hearing on the Bilibid drug trade,” De Lima said.
In fact, De Lima said the Prosecution negated their own claim of conspiracy, saying that if Tan, Sy, Co and Ragos are to be believed, the deliveries were “contributions” for a supposed Senatorial Run (for the 2013 elections whereat De Lima never filed a certificate of candidacy), in exchange for the alleged implicit promise that they will continue to enjoy privileges and benefits while inside the NBP.
“In other words, going by the Prosecution’s own purported evidence, Accused De Lima had a purpose completely independent of the persons who allegedly provided the money – which is the antithesis of a charge of conspiracy,” the document read.
Ultimately, De Lima said the entirety of the Prosecution’s evidence more credibly and reasonably makes out a narrative that she is innocent, and that the case is about the corruption at the helm of BuCor, not illegal drugs or De Lima.
It can be noted that Magalong and some NBI officials cleared De Lima of any involvement in any investigation on the illegal drug trade. (30)