Pimentel, Hontiveros file resolution seeking release of ex-senator Leila de Lima

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 26 2022 06:01 PM

MANILA - The Senate’s "Super Minority Bloc" has filed a resolution seeking the release from detention of former senator Leila de Lima.

In Senate Resolution 27 filed by Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III and Senator Risa Hontiveros last July 14, the two legislators underlined the recantations made by "key witnesses in her drug cases."

The resolution specifically mentioned self-confessed drug trader Kerwin Espinosa who withdrew his statements against de Lima last April 28.

Espinosa’s recantation was followed by that of former Bureau of Corrections Director Rafael Ragos on May 2.

On May 14, de Lima’s former aide Ronnie Dayan also withdrew his allegation against de Lima.

"With these series of recantations, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Senator de Lima’s arrest and continued unjust detention was nothing more than a carefully orchestrated ploy to silence an outspoken critic and passionate human rights advocate," the senators' resolution stated.

De Lima, who was elected as senator in 2016 but failed to secure another term in the May elections, was a staunch critic of former President Rodrigo Duterte. She called the cases against her as political persecution.

"Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate, to urge the Department of Justice to withdraw immediately the remaining charges against detained Senator Leila M. de Lima in light of the recent recantations given by key witnesses in her drug cases and move for her release from her unjust and arbitrary detention," the resolution read.

Hontiveros said a member of the Senate majority bloc has agreed to support the resolution.

Sen. Sonny Angara, for his part, said he will study the matter given that de Lima’s cases are already in the courts.

"Pag nasa korte na yan, medyo kami, we're (Senate) a separate branch of government. Mahirap makialam sa ano. Ayaw din namin na makialam sila sa amin… Ayaw din siguro ng korte na makikialam ang Kongreso sa kanila," Angara said.

"Kung mayroon namang may kaso pang nasa DOJ level, pwede pang pag-usapan yun. Pero even then, kailangang pag-aralan nang mabuti," he added.

Reacting to the resolution, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla also said the issue is up to the courts.

"The matter is already within the jurisdiction of the Muntinlupa Trial Court, which has the sole power and authority to act on the pending case against the former senator," Remulla said in a statement.

"Based on records, Rafael Ragos, a defense witness has not been presented before the Muntinlupa Court. Hence, the Department will rely on the sound discretion of the Court on the appreciation of the alleged evidence," he added.

- with report from Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News

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