Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima welcomed the move of former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos to finally admit that his testimony against her before the court in relation to illegal drugs is nothing but pure lies and invention.
De Lima, the most prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, said the retraction of Ragos of his allegations against her should help get her trumped-up drug case dismissed.
“I did not expect, at least at this stage, former NBI Deputy Director and BuCor OIC Rafael Ragos to retract his statements and testimonies implicating me in the Bilibid drug trade. After all, he played along with my persecutors in the Duterte Administration for so long I no longer hoped that he still had any remaining ounce of integrity in himself.
“In fact, it was his testimony in court that was used by the judge to deny my demurrer or motion to dismiss in one of the fabricated drug cases filed against me by the DOJ,” she said.
“His fabricated testimony, which he is now retracting, is the main, if not the sole, reason why that case was not dismissed and why I am still detained as the trial continues,” she added.
Ragos is a principal witness in one of two cases against De Lima pending at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court. 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.
“As far as I know and based on my professional relationship with Sec. De Lima, she is incapable of doing anything illegal, much less engage in the illegal drug trade or accept money from Bilibid inmates. All of my allegations to the contrary in my affidavits and House and court testimonies are all fiction, false, and fabricated,” he said.
Ragos said that he was threatened by then Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre into making false allegations against De Lima, explaining that he followed Aguirre’s order due to threats of being detained himself on a crime he claimed he did not commit.
De Lima said the inclusion of Aguirre, who was the leading instigator of the fabricated cases against her after Duterte and NBI Deputy Director Reynaldo Esmeralda who has an axe to grind against her, did also not come as a surprise. The other names, however, were new to her.
“The others, like former NBI Director Dante Gierran, DOJ Usec Raymund Mecate, Danny Yang, Roland Argabioso, and PAO lawyers Rigel Salvador and Demi Huerta, are new to me,” she said.
Meanwhile, De Lima said that she has always suspected that the DOJ Panel of Prosecutors would have known that Ragos was lying on the witness stand but his retraction “only confirms that they did and that, all along, they were guilty of suborning false testimony.”
In his affidavit, it can be noted that Ragos admitted that there was a time that he met with the prosecutors handling De Lima’s case wherein he told them that the allegations against the Senator “never happened.”
Prior to Ragos’ retraction, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa also recanted all of his allegations against De Lima in relation to illegal drug trade in a counter-affidavit filed at the DOJ on April 28.
“With Espinosa’s and Ragos’s retractions, I hope it is now clear to the Filipino people that the false charges for illegal drug trading filed against me by the DOJ were the product of a long-standing conspiracy,” De Lima said.
The lady Senator from Bicol believes that it is only a matter of time before the rest are identified by other false witnesses, mostly convicted inmates of the Bilibid, who were either bribed or coerced to make up stories about her supposed involvement in the Bilibid drug trade.
“This is only expected as the mastermind of this despicable enterprise exits Malacañang at the end of his calamitous term. It appears, after all, that justice will still be served, no matter how late. Five years too late. But indeed, Truth often bides its time. It patiently waits and is never vanquished,” she said.
In a separate statement posted on Twitter, De Lima stated: “Five years too late but still appreciated. Sana makonsensya na rin lahat ng nasangkot sa gawa-gawang kaso laban sa akin. Patuloy po ang laban natin para sa hustisya.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa lalong pagtibay at paglabas ng katotohanan na ako ay inosente, at kung sino ang mga nagsabwatan para ako’y siraan, gipitin at patahimikin.”
De Lima has consistently and firmly asserted her innocence in the cases filed against her. Due to lack of evidence, one of the three trumped-up drug charges against her has already been dismissed, which she called a “moral victory.” The two other cases are still pending. (30)