MANILA — Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Monday said she is "thankful" that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is now reviewing her drug-related cases following the recantations of witnesses against her.
"I am thankful that, as reported by the media, the DOJ is now reviewing my cases," De Lima said in a statement.
Detained since 2017, De Lima calls the drug charges against her “political persecution” allegedly spurred by her criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics crackdown, which his administration denies.
Last week, Marcelo Adorco, a key government witness, denied knowing and transacting with De Lima. He also took back his allegations against self-confessed narcotics trafficker Kerwin Espinosa, who supposedly gave the senator drug payoffs when she was still justice secretary.
According to De Lima, it is the "DOJ’s sacred mandate to ensure that no injustice is done to anyone."
"DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra should not be doing a Pontius Pilate by just pointing to his predecessor as the initiator of the cases against me. He is morally and legally bound to look into the recent recantations of so-called 'star witnesses' in the House and Senate hearing," De Lima said.
In an earlier interview, Guevarra said recanting witnesses must be cross-examined in court.
“Kasi sa ngayon, hindi naman natin masasabi kung alin ang totoo, at alin ba ang totoo--yun bang unang sinabi, o yung pagbawi? Kaya ‘yon ay dapat na idaan sa masusing examination... Ang Department of Justice naman ay nakahanda na tanggapin kung ano ang talagang lilitaw na katotohanan," ,” he explained.
(Right now, we can't say which is true, the initial statement or the recantation? This is why it should go through thorough examination. The Department of Justice is ready to accept the truth that will surface.)
Four other witnesses have recanted their allegations against the senator, including Espinosa, former Bureau of Corrections officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos, her former bodyguard Ronnie Dayan, and convicted murderer Joel Capones.