De Lima blasts DOJ's Guevarra for continuing her prosecution despite retractions

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 16 2022 04:19 PM | Updated as of Jun 16 2022 04:46 PM

Sen. Leila de Lima arrives for a hearing of her case at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa City on June 13, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Sen. Leila de Lima arrives for a hearing of her case at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court in Muntinlupa City on June 13, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News


MANILA — Detained Sen. Leila de Lima on Thursday blasted outgoing Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra for his decision to continue her prosecution despite retractions of statements by some witnesses.

"Up to the end of his term, Sec. Guevarra is minded to stand by the lies and manufactured evidence of the Duterte government, not wanting to displease his principal. He is, after all, (President Rodrigo) Duterte’s alter ego," de Lima said in a statement.

Guevarra earlier said he was advised by the Department of Justice's panel of prosecutors that there is a "good reason" to continue the prosecution of the senator.

To recall, De Lima had requested a review of her cases after the retractions of two witnesses: Kerwin Espinosa and Rafael Ragos.

"It is doubtful that Sec. Guevarra even read the recantation of Rafael Ragos where it was revealed that early on, Ragos already told the members of this panel not to expect his testimony to be perfect, given that it was all made up lies and forced upon him by former SOJ Vitaliano Aguirre," De Lima said.

"Did he even confront the panel of prosecutors as to the truth of Ragos’s accusations against them?" 

De Lima, who has been slapped with illegal drugs cases that caused her incarceration since February 2017 or months after she was elected as senator, has cried political persecution for being a vocal critic of Duterte's policies and programs.

The senator, whose term ends on June 30, is implicated in the illegal drugs trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was Justice Secretary in the previous administration. She denies the allegation.

Before her detention, De Lima spearheaded Senate investigations into the so-called Davao Death Squad and Duterte's bloody war on drugs.

De Lima said that Guevarra's move is "devoid of any effort to dig deeper [into] the wider scheme of things behind my persecution by Duterte. It is nothing but a worthless, unsubstantial table review."

"It pains me that the very institution that I served faithfully has failed in its foremost, noble task to protect the innocent," she said.

"Never mind justice. Never mind fair play. Never mind that an innocent person was kept in jail for the past 5 years, and counting, without real evidence except the lies of mostly convicted felons. Never mind the Truth," she lamented.

Guevarra's decision is "plainly a safe and nonchalant gesture", she said.

"Frustrating but not at all surprising or unexpected. I guess it was wishful thinking to expect anything different from Sec. Guevarra," she added.

"Regrettably, it is still a Pontius Pilate act when he simply relied on the so-called 'assessment' of the very panel of prosecutors handling the cases."

Guevarra had said that the prosecution takes the position that until the witnesses are actually presented in court for examination to ascertain the truthfulness of their statements, "their alleged recantations have no probative value whatsoever."

"In any event, the final say on the disposition of the cases rests on the judge alone and no other," he said.

De Lima, who still has two drugs cases pending before the court, is detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City. Another case was junked last year

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