MANILA — Sen. Leila De Lima on Monday said she did not expect former National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos to recant his allegations implicating her in the illegal drugs trade.
In a statement that De Lima herself wrote from her detention cell, she said that she appreciated Ragos' mustering "enough courage and conscience to own up to bearing false witness against an innocent person."
"I am grateful to him for identifying the personalities behind the conspiracy to destroy my reputation and put me in jail," De Lima said.
In an affidavit on Saturday, Ragos—a key witness in the cases against De Lima—belied his earlier claims that he personally delivered P5 million to Ronnie Dayan, her former bodyguard, at her residence in Parañaque City in November and December 2012.
“I now hereby declare and make known to the whole world that there is no truth whatsoever to any of these affidavits or House and court testimonies, or any other statement made in the media or other investigatory proceedings, including the Senate and the DOJ, on the delivery of monies to Sec. Leila De Lima or Ronnie Dayan in whatever amount,” he said.
Ragos also said in his affidavit Saturday that former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre supposedly forced him to testify against De Lima.
De Lima alleged that Aguirre was "the leading instigator of fabricated cases against me, after [President Rodrigo] Duterte."
"[Aguirre's] name appearing in Ragos’s affidavit of retraction did not come as a surprise," she said.
"I have also always suspected that the DOJ Panel of Prosecutors, or some of them, would have known that Ragos was lying on the witness stand. Ragos’s retraction only confirms that they did and that, all along, they were guilty of suborning false testimony," De Lima added.
Ragos was the second witnesses who recanted his allegations against De Lima, next to self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
De Lima said that with Ragos' and Espinosa's retractions of their testimonies, she hopes that the public will realize that the "false charges for illegal drug trading filed against me by the DOJ were the product of a long-standing conspiracy that started all the way back in September 2016."
"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 my supposed involvement in the Bilibid drug trade," she said.
"It appears, after all, that justice will still be served, no matter how late. Five years too late," she added.
Since 2017, De Lima has been detained in the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
She is running for another 6-year Senate term, mounting her campaign from her detention cell.