MANILA — Seven convicted witnesses against former senator Leila de Lima have written to Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 206 Judge Gener Gito, expressing their intention to recant their statements against the former lawmaker in her last pending drug case.
In a 3-page handwritten letter dated November 17, 2023, inmates German Agojo, Tomas Doniña, Jaime Patcho, Wu Tuan Yuan (alias Peter Co), Engelberto Durano, Jerry Pepino and Hans Anton Tan, said they would like to recant their previous testimonies against De Lima “in the interest of truth and justice.”
“At this point, we would like to state that our participation as witnesses in the drug cases against former DOJ Secretary De Lima was vitiated by undue compulsion and influence, and thus, any judicial statement made by us, is void of lack of consent,” the 7 inmates said in the letter signed by them.
The inmate-witnesses claimed that before they testified, their lives were threatened, citing the stabbing incidents in the New Bilibid Prison and alleged attempts on their lives in Fort Bonifacio and Camp Aguinaldo, where they were detained prior to their transfer to the Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro.
The PDL-witnesses asked Judge Gito for permission to recant their testimonies and expressed their "sincerest apologies" to De Lima and her family.
They also asked that they be transferred from Sablayan to another facility.
“We no longer desire to live our lives with the knowledge that we allowed ourselves to become pawns or instruments of injustice. We wish to live a life of dignity, integrity and responsibility moving forward,” they said.
The recantation letter was attached to De Lima’s manifestation with urgent motion filed with the Muntinlupa court Tuesday, November 21, asking that the 7 be transferred from the Sablayan prison to an appropriate facility of the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City.
Two other inmate-witnesses, Rodolfo Magleo and Nonilo Arile, in October this year, also wrote Gito expressing willingness to recant their allegations in De Lima’s remaning drug case.
De Lima was allowed to post bail last week after almost 7 years in detention, although she clarified, the grant of bail had nothing to do with the recantations of convicted witnesses.
In a 69-page ruling, Judge Gito said the testimonies of the prosecution's 9 witnesses "were not able to clearly establish that there exists a conspiracy among them to commit illegal drug trading."
With 9 PDL-witnesses expressing their intent to recant allegations vs. De Lima, there are 5 PDL-witnesses left whose testimonies were evaluated by the Muntinlupa court in deciding to grant De Lima bail:
- Renante Diaz
- Noel Martinez
- Joel Capones
- Herbert Colanggo
- Jojo Baligad