MANILA - Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Friday admitted that the testimonies of drug convicts against detained Senator Leila de Lima, by their nature, carry much less weight.
Several convicts at the New Bilibid Prison have accused De Lima of receiving money from the illegal drug trade in exchange for protection and certain perks. The money allegedly went into De Lima’s campaign fund for her 2016 senatorial bid.
“Aminado tayo na sa jurisprudence, ang weight o yung bigat ng testimonya ng convicted drug felons eh hindi ganon kabigat,” Roque said in a Facebook interview.
De Lima’s camp had said the witnesses’ conviction for illegal drug trafficking was “an express disqualification under the rules of court and Dangerous Drugs Act.
De Lima had said the testimonies of the inmates could have been made under duress or in exchange of certain favors.
Roque, however, noted that it was not only drug convicts who have testified against De Lima, citing the senator’s former driver-lover Ronnie Dayan and former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos.
Dayan, who had a 7-year relationship with De Lima, had admitted to receiving money from alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa on behalf of the former justice secretary.
Ragos, on the other hand, claimed he had delivered P10 million in drug payoffs to De Lima and Dayan on separate occasions.
Former subordinates of the senator in the justice department, former National Bureau of Investigation deputy directors Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala, had also filed drug-related charges against the senator, describing the latter as the "mother of all drug lords" who allegedly used her power to run a narcotics trade inside the New Bilibid Prison during her term as justice secretary.
De Lima relieved the two of their positions as part of the NBI's reorganization in 2014. They reportedly had links with alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles, an allegation they have already denied.
De Lima has repeatedly dismissed all drug-related allegations against her as politically motivated lies.
The senator has been in detention for over a year, as she failed to convince the Supreme Court that the charges against her are baseless.