Acquittal flawed, recantation witness’ intimidation unproved (6)

“He said that whatever statement he made against her was in defense and in response to the baseless accusations hurled against him when he was still the Davao Mayor.

Accused De Lima following her very questionable and flawed reversible acquittal, expressed her belief of being acquitted at the inception of the drug cases filed against her, and insisted on the “Duterte regime” fabricating all the cases filed against her.

She said, “I had no doubt from the very beginning that I will be acquitted in all cases the Duterte regime fabricated against me based on the merits and the strength of my innocence.”

In the first place, it’s not the “Duterte regime” that filed the three drug cases against her. They were filed during the Duterte administration but it doesn’t mean that it was the administration or then-President Rodrigo Roa Duterte who initiated the cases.

It was the government agency tasked to file the cases against transgressors of the law which filed the cases. Various administrations come and go, but such entity remains being a permanent fixture in any government assigned to prosecute criminal offenders.

Her claim of fabrication of the charges is always the refuge of criminals claiming innocence. Even an unassailable acquittal rendered in accordance with the law doesn’t automatically mean that the offense charged was a fabrication. It could simply mean that the required quantum of proof beyond reasonable doubt was not achieved during the trial of the case or that the evidence presented by the prosecution was not enough to sustain a conviction.

The evidence extant in the case, however, belies and repudiates the self-serving and false claim of fabrication by the accused.

In a telephone conversation with former President Duterte, this columnist queried him on his reaction to the De Lima acquittal. He gave a short and cryptic response:

“The judgement of the court should be accepted. Frankly, I’m not interested in the outcome of the case as I have nothing to do with it. I have never interfered with the judicial process, in the same manner, I didn’t interfere with how each of the departments of the Executive  Branch was being run unless there was corruption. I always say let the law take its course.“

This is how the Duterte presidency was run by the straight-talking and politically willed maverick of a president, whose trust and approval rating at the start, during, and after he stepped down remain astronomical and unprecedented.

He said that whatever statement he made against her was in defense and in response to the baseless accusations hurled against him when he was still the Davao Mayor by the former lawmaker. The latter launched an official investigation as former  Commissioner of Human Rights and later on as Secretary of the Department of Justice on the extra-judicial killings allegedly perpetrated by the former. Both investigations’ findings did not validate such accusations, which only showed the propensity of the accused to lie as well as to abuse her authority and use her office to besmirch the reputation of PRRD.

This writer shared the afore-quoted PRRD statement with all media outlets which were requesting a statement from him. This columnist also forwarded his own take on the acquittal as his opinion on the same subject was likewise asked. While other media outlets quoted our statements correctly, two leading newspapers incorrectly attributed this lawyer’s thoughts on the flawed acquittal to PRRD, which necessitated them to correct the subsequent publication and their online releases.

For those who may have been misled by the wrong attribution to PRRD, we are reproducing in toto this writer’s issued statement:


“On De Lima’s acquittal

My take: As a lawyer, it is my position that the final judgement of a competent court must be accepted no matter how one disagrees with it.

In this particular De Lima case, the acquittal is flawed. The evidence extant supports a judgement of conviction.

The ruling of the court that the recantation of witness Ragos created a reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused is grossly erroneous as the claim for recanting Ragos testimony that he was intimidated was never proven. The recantation, in fact, was rebutted in court by his own lawyer who assisted him. The court ignorantly did not consider the lack of proof of intimidation as claimed by the recanting witness. Neither did it even touch on the rebuttal evidence against the recantation.

In the court’s own words, recantation is exceedingly unreliable because it can be made thru intimidation or in exchange for money.

Since the previous testimony of Ragos was never proven to be coerced or against his will, recantation can never produce any weight to overturn the validity and efficacy of the recanted testimony. Necessarily, his testimony cannot be discarded.

Given that his original testimony stands, that he delivered drug money, the source of which was established, to the accused, plus the fact that the court itself acknowledged the existence of the drug syndicate composed of detained drug lords who were, in fact, operating the traffic of illegal drugs inside the national bilibid prisons, the quantum of proof for conviction is present.

— Salvador S. Panelo”


(To be continued )

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