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Prosecution team in Leila case questioned

If the Prosecution does not believe that Joel Capones was telling the truth, and yet they presented him as a witness before the Court, then the Prosecution would have committed the offense.

Alvin Murcia

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The prosecution team handling the illegal drug charges of opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima was questioned whether the team committed subornation of perjury or dereliction of duty when they allowed convicted murderer Joel Capones to be presented in court as their witness against the lawmaker.

De Lima, through her lawyers, in a manifestation before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 256 dated 24 February, stressed that it is important to know whether or not the Prosecution believes their own witness.

“If the Prosecution does not believe that Joel Capones was telling the truth, and yet they presented him as a witness before the Court, then the Prosecution would have committed the offense of subornation of perjury or, at the very least, violated their lawyer’s oath,” De Lima said.

“On the other hand, if the Prosecution does believe that Capones committed illegal drug trading, then they are currently in the act of committing the criminal offense of dereliction of duty, punishable under Article 208 of the Revised Penal Code [RPC],” she added.

Article 208 of the RPC punishes “any officer of the law, who, in dereliction of the duties of his office, shall maliciously refrain from instituting prosecution for the punishment of violators of the law, or shall tolerate the commission of offenses.”

Capones in his testimony before the court, confessed that he committed illegal drug trading within the New Bilibid Prison together with his 13 mayores in the Sigue Sigue Sputnik Gang from January to October 2014. Yet, Capones was not included as an accused in the said case or any drug case for that matter.

During the hearing held last 23 February, Provincial Prosecutor Ramoncito Bienvenido Ocampo, Jr. commented that he does not understand why De Lima’s Defense Counsel was still conducting
cross-examination if they believed the testimony of Capones admitting to his involvement in the illegal drug trade.

The jailed lawmaker said her counsel has the right to conduct cross-examination “to show the falsity, incredibility and extreme selectiveness of Joel Capones’ memory.”

“It is one thing for Joel Capones to make admissions against his own interest under oath and in open court; and quite another for him to implicate other persons, including herein Accused De Lima,” she said.

“In fact, through cross-examination, not only were gaping holes in his memory revealed, so is the existence of another sworn statement that the Prosecution withheld from the Court and from the Defense, giving them no opportunity to inspect the same for inconsistencies and other possible exculpatory evidence,” she added.

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