MANILA, Philippines — Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured detained opposition Senator Leila De Lima that he would “seriously” consider her request to review and drop drug charges. against her.
“I will give Senator De Lima’s letter my full attention and will discuss the matter with other senior DOJ and NPS (National Attorney Service) officials,” Guevarra said in a Viber message when asked. to comment on De Lima’s request.
The senator, in detention since 2017, made the request following the retraction of the former head of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Rafael Ragos of his testimony against her.
Guevarra said he “saw” De Lima’s letter before he left his office Friday night when asked if he was able to read it. He said he “would still have to study it carefully” before passing judgment.
But he clarified that De Lima’s cases are already at the trial stage and “the only way to find out if the witnesses are lying is to present them in court for thorough examination and cross-examination.”
He also pointed out that it is the judge who would weigh in on “the veracity and probative value” of the witness statements and who would ultimately “render a judgment based on the totality of the evidence presented by both parties at the end of the court case”.
Guevarra also pointed out that the delay in moving De Lima’s cases was due to many factors, including the court’s schedule and workload, the number of defendants, the number and availability of witnesses, and various motions. filed by the defense and prosecution panels.
He added that motions for judicial review of trial court orders, pandemic lockdowns, restraining or disqualification of presiding judges have also slowed deliberations on cases.
“Bail is the only way for Senator De Lima to be temporarily free while awaiting trial. She tried, but the court refused,” he added.