Leila de Lima

De Lima camp will push again for bail to seek temporary release

Jairo Bolledo

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De Lima camp will push again for bail to seek temporary release

APPEARANCE. Former senator Leila de Lima attends the continuation of hearing of the remaining drug charges against her on February 10, 2023.

De Lima's lawyer also reveals that according to former BuCor OIC Rafael Ragos, PAO chief Persida Acosta also pressured him to testify against the former senator

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyer Boni Tacardon, one of the legal counsels of former senator Leila de Lima, said they will again push for bail to seek the former lawmaker’s temporary release. This comes after former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer in charge Rafael Ragos finished recanting his statement against De Lima.

Binawi na ni deputy director Ragos ang kanyang salaysay at dahil dito, naghahanda kami magsampa ng supplemental motion for bail na ihahain namin. Hihingi kami ng pansamantalang kalayaan para kay [former] senator Leila de Lima,” Tacardon told reporters on Friday, February 10.

(Deputy director Ragos already retracted his statement against De Lima so because of this, we’re preparing to file a supplemental motion for bail. We will seek the temporary release of [former] senator Leila de Lima.)

Tacardon explained that in their first application for bail, the judge previously said there was evidence against De Lima – Ragos’ testimony. Since the former BuCor official already recanted his statements, there would no longer be evidence against De Lima, especially if the court accepts the recantation.

On Friday, De Lima and Ragos attended the continuation of the hearing for De Lima’s remaining drug-related charges. The hearing was also intended to allow Ragos to continue his testimony.

De Lima, a former justice secretary, was accused of allegedly enabling the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison to fund her 2016 senatorial bid. She was slapped with at least three drug-related charges. She was already acquitted by the court for one of them in 2021. Ragos, who was the acting BuCor chief in 2012, alleged before that he delivered money on two occasions to De Lima’s home as instructed by a convict.

But in May 2022, Ragos retracted his accusations and said he was forced to invent the story upon the instructions of former Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. Ragos was the DOJ’s star witness whose testimony was a big part of the reason the judge in Muntinlupa proceeded with trial.

Tacardon, on Friday, added that they would file the supplemental motion for bail within the month.

After the Supreme Court (SC) allowed the temporary release of Gigi Reyes, former chief of staff of former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, various lawyers, including former SC spokesperson Theodore Te said De Lima may also file a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Reyes was released on the grounds of her right to speedy trial.

Tacardon then said they were studying Reyes’ case and looking into the possibility of filing the same petition before the High Court.

Acosta also tagged

De Lima’s lawyer revealed on Friday that according to Ragos, Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta also pressured him to testify against De Lima:

Pinanindigan talaga ni Rafael Ragos na lahat ng kanyang mga akusasyon noon kay [former] senator Leila de Lima ay pawang mga kasinungalingan lamang at ito ay bunga ng sinasabi niyang coercion at pagpe-pressure sa kanya mismo ni secretary Aguirre at kasama doon, binanggit niya si Atty. Persida Acosta at si NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) director Dante Gierran,” Tacardon said.

(Rafael Ragos stood by his statement that all allegations before against former senator Leila de Lima were all falsehoods and caused by coercion and pressure from secretary Aguirre himself, including Atty. Persida Acosta and NBI director Dante Gierran.)

Acosta was not named by Ragos as among the officials who pressured him to testify against De Lima when he recanted his statements last May.

In a message to Rappler, Acosta said Ragos did not pin her during the hearing, adding that she did not pressure the former Corrections official: “Base sa mga nakasaksi sa hearing kanina ni Ragos, hindi ako itinuro ni NBI Deputy Director Ragos na nag-pressure sa kanya, dahil hindi ko naman siya pressured.”

(According to those who have witnessed Ragos’ hearing earlier, NBI Deputy Director Ragos did not say I pressured him, because I did not pressure him.) – Rappler.com

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Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering justice, police, and crime.