The Department of Justice (DoJ) has junked drug charges filed against former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Rafael Ragos in exchange for his testimony against detained Sen. Leila de Lima.
De Lima is accused before the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 of taking part in and benefitting from the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prisons (NBP), the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.
In an amended charge sheet, the DoJ cleared Ragos of the charges and named the senator and her former lover Ronnie Dayan as the primary accused in the case.
An 11-page resolution was issued by the Justice department led by State Prosecutor Peter Ong after Ragos filed a supplemental motion for reconsideration.
The former BuCor chief said he cannot be indicted for violation of Republic Act (RA) 9165 because of his admission into the Witness Protection and Security Benefits Program (WPSBP).
He added that he only delivered P10 million in drug payoffs to de Lima, who was then Justice secretary, and Dayan on separate occasions.
”With the foregoing disclosures and his admission into the WPSBP, the undersigned panel of prosecutors recommends that Ragos be excluded from the information in Criminal Case No. 17-165. The other grounds relied upon by respondent Ragos in assailing the joint resolution dated February 14, 2017 are, thus, rendered moot and academic,” the resolution said.
Ragos had disclosed before the House of Representatives that he delivered P5 million to Dayan at the senator’s residence in November 2012, saying he saw Dayan handing a bag containing the money to de Lima.
“I had no choice but to say yes to Mr. Dayan because I know how close he is to Secretary de Lima. I am a frequent visitor to the house of Secretary de Lima in Parañaque [City] and her office on Padre Faura [Street in Ermita, Manila, where the DoJ is located] and even their house in Bicol, so I was able to observe their behavior and intimacy toward each other,” the ex-BuCor chief said in his affidavit.
Ragos, then the director of the Corrections bureau, supposedly was getting orders from de Lima and Dayan.
Bucor is an agency under the Justice department, which supervises the NBP.
De Lima’s bid for the Senate in the 2016 elections was reportedly funded by illegal drugs.
De Lima and Dayan are charged for conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading, a violation of Section 26 (b) in relation to Section 5, Section 3 (jj) and Section 28 of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
“The inmates of the [NBP], not being authorized by law and through the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices, willfully and unlawfully traded and trafficked dangerous drugs,” the charge sheet read.
“Thereafter [the inmates]gave and delivered to de Lima and/through Dayan the proceeds of illegal drug trading amounting to P5 million on 24 November 2012 and another P5 million on 15 December 2012,” it said.
De Lima was charged with three separate cases of drug trafficking before the Muntinlupa RTC that were assigned to three different courts.
The cases for sale and trading of illegal drugs and liability of government officials under RA 9165 were assigned to RTC Branch 204 Judge Juanita Guerrero, Branch 205 Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz and Branch 206 Judge Patria Manalastas-de Leon.
In the first case before Guerrero, charged were de Lima, Dayan and Ragos.
In the second case before Corpuz, the senator is joined by her nephew Jose Adrian Dera.
In the third case before de Leon, de Lima was charged along with Dera; Dayan; former BuCor chief Franklin Bucayu and his alleged bagman Wilfredo Elli; high-profile inmate Jaybee Sebastian; and the senator’s s former bodyguard Jonel Sanchez.