Muntinlupa court upholds decision allowing Ragos to testify in De Lima case

Rafael Ragos is the DOJ’s star witness in the cases against Leila de Lima, and his testimony is a big part of why Muntinlupa’s judge proceeded with the trial.

MANILA, Philippines — A court in Muntinlupa has upheld its decision allowing former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Rafael Ragos to testify and retract his allegations against former Senator Leila de Lima.

The four-page decision by Judge Abraham Joseph Alcantara of Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 204, dated October 18, denied prosecutors’ appeal to reconsider the earlier decision allowing Ragos to testify. The latest ruling also stemmed from the prosecutor’s appeal to deny Ronnie Dayan’s motion to recall Ragos.

“After careful consideration of the arguments raised in the motion, this court denies the same as lacking merit. The motion does not raise any new questions and issues that have not already been considered and resolved by this court in its order,” the court said.

The court added that a motion without new arguments would be “useless” in the proceedings.

“A motion for reconsideration based on arguments already presented and found to be without merit may be summarily dismissed, as it would be unnecessary ritual for this court to reiterate. Nevertheless, this court endeavored to assess the merits of the applicant’s arguments and considers them insufficient to justify the granting of the compensation sought.

In May of this year, Ragos, the Department of Justice (DOJ) star witness in the cases against De Lima, retracted his accusations and said he was forced to make up the story on the instructions of former DOJ chief Vitaliano Aguirre II.

His recantation was a big development in the De Lima case because Ragos is a recorded witness and his testimony was a big part of why Judge de Muntinlupa proceeded to trial.

On September 30, Ragos was supposed to testify at a hearing in the De Lima case, but he was refuse after prosecutors appealed, barring the former BuCor chief from testifying.

In its latest ruling, the Muntinlupa court said Ragos’ recantation should be tested in court.

“This Court recapitulates that the interests of justice would be best served if Mr. Ragos’ alleged recantation were tested in a public trial, with sufficient opportunity given to the prosecution to cross-examine the recanting witness,” the court said, adding that Ragos’ original testimony would still be considered as they must determine which testimony should be credited.

The retraction of Ragos

However, the court also noted that retractions are viewed with suspicion and reservation, and that the court “views with disfavor the retractions of testimony previously given in court.”

“Before allowing recantation, the court should therefore not be too willing to accept it, but should test its worth in a public trial, with sufficient opportunity given to the opposing party to cross-examine the recanting witness. both on the merits of the retraction and its motivations,” the court in Muntinlupa said.

Muntinlupa’s RTC Branch 204 added that Ragos’ recantation is subject to a test of credibility, “including the behavior of the recanting witness on the stand.”

Ragos was the acting head of BuCor in 2012. Among his allegations were handed over money twice at De Lima’s home on the instructions of a convict.

His story was part of allegations that De Lima, a former justice secretary, allowed drug trafficking inside New Bilibid prison and raised money to fund his senatorial bid in 2016.

From Lima, who recently Survived a hostage-taking incident inside the Philippine National Police Detention Facility, faces only two more drug charges after being acquitted in one of its cases in 2021.

The former senator is now back at her facility after spending time in hospital due to the hostage-taking incident. –

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