Sen. Leila de Lima is suspicious of the move of the Department of Justice to exclude former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos from the illegal drug trading case filed against her.
The senator’s suspicion stemmed from the move of the prosecution to file an amended information dropping Ragos from the complaint and making him a state witness against her.
De Lima called on Ragos and another co-accused, Ronnie Dayan, to “resist” pressures to falsely testify against her.
“It’s suspicious and fishy,” de Lima said when she appeared for her trial at the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204 on Thursday.
“By turning Ragos into a witness for the prosecution, it looks like there’s a done deal already, a deal for more lies,” she said.
“They (Ragos and Dayan) very well know that I’m innocent and these were merely trumped up charges against me. I appeal to them to listen to their conscience. They must be true to themselves. They must not allow themselves (to be pressured) by the minions of (President Rodrigo) Duterte,” she said.
The case for illegal drug trading lodged at the Muntinlupa RTC Branch 204 originated from four separate complaints filed by the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), represented by Dante Jimenez; Reynaldo Esmeralda and Ruel Lasala; the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Jaybee Sebastian before the DoJ.
The complaint filed before the court in February 2017 was based on the testimonies of some convicted criminals and also of Ragos during the congressional hearing on illegal drug trading.
On Thursday, prosecutors filed a Motion to Amend Information, changing the original accusation from drug trading “to conspiracy to trade illegal drugs.” They also moved to drop Ragos as a co-accused.
In his earlier affidavit, Ragos, who served as officer-in-charge of BuCor for four months, claimed that he personally delivered money allegedly from the concerned convicts to de Lima’s residence on two occasions in 2012.
The senator again denied the charges.
“They are absolute lies, pure inventions. For the nth time, I declare I have not received, and I will never receive, even a single centavo, from an illegal source, let alone drug money. I’m not involved in, and I have not benefited in any manner from, the drug trade,” she said.
De Lima claimed that she drew the President’s ire when she initiated a Senate probe into the unabated spate of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the government’s all-out war on drugs.