Ragos' allegation vs. gov't prosecutor to be taken seriously: official

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Posted at May 03 2022 12:37 PM | Updated as of May 03 2022 06:06 PM

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MANILA – An allegation against a government prosecutor by former National Bureau of Investigation official Rafael Ragos in relation to the latter's retraction of his statements against Sen. Leila de Lima will be taken seriously, Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said Tuesday.

As he took back his accusations against De Lima, Ragos said in his latest affidavit that Prosecutor Laurence Joel Taliping advised him: ‘Magtestigo ka nang mabuti, minomonitor ka ng Malacañang.”

“The allegations will be taken seriously as well. In fact, our Secretary of Justice has already mentioned that the proper forum for this is the Office of the Ombudsman, because the allegations are against former officials of the Department of Justice as well as members of the prosecution panel,” Malcontento told ANC’s “Rundown.”

Malcontento noted that Taliping has denied Ragos’ accusation against him.

“These things did not happen, insofar as Prosecutor Taliping is concerned. Now, we have to remember again, that the affidavit of Ragos, this latest affidavit, we just hope that we’ll be given a chance to cross examine him. Because if it is presented in court, this time the prosecution will cross examine Ragos and it is part of due process,” he added.

“And we hope that Prosecutor Taliping will have his day in court as well.”

Taliping will also stay on the prosecution team handling De Lima's case for now, said Malcontento.

“In fact, until and unless there’s a directive from the Secretary of Justice, the panel stays… No changes, unless there is an evidence here, acceptable evidence that a member of the prosecution panel is--would be held liable. But as of the moment, everything is premature. The membership of the panel [stays],” he said.

Last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) downplayed the retraction by self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa of his allegations against De Lima.

The DOJ said he was not a witness in any of the court cases against the detained senator.

De Lima has been detained since February 2017 for allegedly pocketing drug payoffs from convicted crime lords at the New Bilibid Prison when she was still DOJ Secretary. 

She has decried the charges as political persecution due to her opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly war on drugs and her criticism of alleged human rights violations under his administration.

Allies of De Lima called for her release from detention following Espinosa and Ragos' retractions.

--ANC, 3 May 2022