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DOJ wants to present new witness vs. De Lima

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a motion to reopen one of the drug cases of former Senator Leila de Lima as the agency wants to present a new witness against her.

In the six-page motion, the prosecution requested the Court to reopen the trial to set the case for the presentation of their rebuttal evidence.

“The Prosecution moves for the reconsideration of the order given in open court today, and for the re-opening of the trial to allow the presentation of prosecution’s rebuttal evidence,” the motion read.

“While the presentation of rebuttal evidence is discretionary with the prosecution in criminal action, in the instant case, the overwhelming import of the new facts disclosed by the accused which have a damaging effect on the complainant’s version is imperative and necessary,” it later added.

An Unang Balita report on Wednesday quoted De Lima's legal team as saying that they were surprised upon receiving a copy of the DOJ's motion to present Atty. Demiteer Huerta of the Public Attorney's Office (PAO) as a rebuttal witness.

The DOJ wants the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 204 to reopen the case regarding the allegations that De Lima received illegal drug money from former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos.

According to Atty. Filibon Tacardon, De Lima’s legal counsel, their camp intends to file an opposition to the motion.

“We will file an opposition to the motion to reopen and we will ask the court to uphold a valid gentleman’s agreement reached in open court,” Tacardon said in a message to GMA News Online.

Last year, Ragos and self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa retracted their allegations against De Lima and apologized to her.

Tacardon said Monday that the case is already submitted for decision and they expect the decision to be promulgated on May 12.

The DOJ said it has no intention to prolong the hearing on the drug cases against De Lima.

Tacardon said he has not spoken yet with De Lima but they are now looking into the motion and plans to submit an opposition.

De Lima is accused of benefiting financially from the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison during her stint as Justice Secretary. She has repeatedly denied the allegation.

In February 2021, the Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 205 junked one of the three drug cases against De Lima.

The former senator marked her sixth year in detention in February 2023. —with Giselle Ombay/KBK, GMA Integrated News