MANILA — Sen. Leila De Lima on Tuesday slammed the Department of Justice (DOJ) for its stand despite the recent retractions of two witnesses who earlier implicated her in the illegal drugs trade.
In a statement, De Lima said that there was nothing questionable about former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos and self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa "finally speaking the truth."
“Anyone can see how I am in no position to force anything from the witnesses against me,” she said.
“The DOJ is supposed to search for truth. Ngayon, the DOJ wants to bury the truth... dahil ba mga opisyales nila ang sangkot?" De Lima added.
(Is it because their officials are involved?)
She added that the DOJ's decision to keep her detained despite the retractions "puts into question the department's fidelity to justice."
“There are many things questionable about the cases against me. The recantation of witnesses is not one of them. If anything, this is the only thing that makes sense: it's proof that the truth will always come out," the senator also said.
Since 2017, De Lima has been detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
She earlier thanked Ragos for recanting his earlier allegations against her, including a claim that he personally delivered P5 million in alleged drug money to her then bodyguard Ronnie Dayan in 2012.
The money, Ragos previously claimed, was supposedly used for the 2013 elections, even if De Lima was not a candidate then.
“Isipin nyo naman po: Hindi ako kandidato noong 2013. Pero tumanggap daw ako ng pera noong Nov. at Dec. 2012 para sa kandidatura na yun. Diyan pa lang, klarong kasinungalingan na yung ipinakargang kwento nila kay Ragos sa kanyang dating testimonya, na ayon sa kanyang affidavit of retraction, ay dikta ni dating SOJ [Vitaliano] Aquirre,” said De Lima, a former justice secretary.
(Just think about it. I wasn't a candidate in 2013. But I supposedly accepted money on November and December 2012 for that candidacy. That is a clear, blatant lie in Ragos' former testimony, which according to his affidavit of retraction was orchestrated by former SOJ Vitaliano Aguirre).
Following the retractions, De Lima's allies have called for her immediate release, among them Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, senatorial candidate Chel Diokno, and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
De Lima is running for another Senate term in the May 9 polls.