DOJ moves to reopen trial, present witness vs De Lima


Posted at Apr 19 2023 08:24 PM

Sen. Leila De Lima is escorted by members of the PNP after her drug case hearing at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial court branch 204 on April 17, 2023. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed Wednesday a petition to reopen one of the two remaining drug cases against former Sen. Leila de Lima, saying it intends to present a "rebuttal witness" against the senator.

The state prosecution, in its motion seeking to reopen Criminal Case No. 17-165, said it would present lawyer Demiteer Huerta from the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) as a witness.

According to PAO's website, Huerta is the officer in charge of PAO's administrative service.

Meanwhile, the camp of De Lima opposed the reopening of the trial as both the prosecution and the accused's party have already agreed "to terminate the proceedings and to submit the case for resolution."

In the DOJ's motion, it said the rebuttal evidence they would provide would also answer the evidence presented by the accused.

"The function of the rebuttal evidence is to explain, repel, counteract, or disprove the evidence of the adversary," the DOJ's motion read.

This was in line with former Bureau of Corrections OIC Rafael Ragos' since-recanted testimony that he had delivered P10-million worth of drug money to De Lima during the 2016 senatorial campaign.

In recanting his statement in February 2023, Ragos said he had been coerced to give the testimony.

De Lima's camp said that "more than a month has already lapsed" since the termination of the presentation of evidence for De Lima's co-accused Ronnie Dayan and "the Panel remained silent as to its intent to introduce rebuttal evidence."

The former senator's camp further explained that the prosecution had a lot of opportunities to present Huerta to the court but did not do so.

"The proposed witness on rebuttal PAO Atty. Huerta, is not newly discovered evidence. He was already known to the Panel at the time they agreed to have the instant case submitted for resolution," De Lima's camp said in their opposition to the motion.

"Atty. Huerta was present inside the courtroom when Deputy Director Rafael Ragos testified on his recantation as witness for accused Dayan," the senator's camp continued.

The decision on the said case of De Lima was already set on May 12 before the DOJ filed for the motion.