DOJ Gives De Lima Plea ‘Serious Consideration’

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General Menardo Guevarra has assured jailed opposition Senator Leila De Lima that he will “seriously consider” her request to review and drop the drug charges against her.

“I will seriously review Sen. De Lima’s letter and will raise the matter with other senior officials at the Justice Department and the NPS (National Prosecutor Service),” Guevarra said in a Viber message when asked to comment on De Lima’s request .

The senator, who has been in custody since 2017, made the motion after Rafael Ragos, former head of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), withdrew his testimony against her.

Guevarra said he had “a cursory glance” at De Lima’s letter before leaving his office on Friday night when asked if he could read it. He said he “will have to study it carefully” before making a judgement.

However, he clarified that the De Lima cases are already in the trial phase and “the only way to find out if witnesses are lying is to bring them to court for intensive investigation and cross-examination.” .

He also stressed that it was the judge who would weigh the “truthfulness and probative value” of the testimonies and ultimately “make a judgment based on the totality of the evidence presented by both sides at the end of the trial.”

Guevarra also stressed that the delay in the progress of De Lima’s cases was due to many factors, including the court’s calendar and caseload, the number of defendants, the number and availability of witnesses, and various motions made by both the defense and were also submitted by the public prosecutor.

He added that requests for judicial review of court orders, pandemic lockdown, suspension or rejection of the presiding judges had also slowed deliberations on the cases.

“Bail is the only way Senator De Lima could be temporarily free while the trial is pending. She tried, but the court refused,” he added.

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