De Lima cautions Senate probers vs lying witnesses on BuCor mess

Senator Leila M. de Lima has cautioned her colleagues against resource persons who are merely using the Senate as a platform to sprout lies and fulfill their sinister agendas involving the alleged anomalies hounding the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).

While lauding the Senate for citing in contempt BuCor officials Benilda Bansil and Veronica BuAo for lying during Senate investigations on Good Conduct Time Allowance abuses, De Lima believed that it could have done the same with other lying witnesses.

"They should have similarly dealt with Rafael Ragos and Jovencio Ablen for their own lies, as a replay of their appearance before the 2016 House Committee inquiry and the ongoing trial in my drug cases, about my alleged links to the Bilibid drug trade and alleged delivery to me of illicit money," she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 616.

"Senate must always exercise extra caution in accepting and presenting so-called resource persons like Bansil, BuAo, Ragos and Ablen who are themselves involved in anomalies and are, quite plainly, 'planted' witnesses to suit some sinister motives," she added.

Bansil and BuAo were cited for contempt for allegedly lying about their supposed involvement in the BuCor mess in relation to the abuse and misuse of the GCTA Law that almost freed heinous crime inmates like former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

The two Bucor officials claimed they did not talk with the wife of Bilibid inmate Godfrey Gamboa for his release under the GCTA law in exchange for money, but National Bureau of Investigation Chief Dante Gierran, citing the NBI's Mobile Phone Forensic Investigation, confirmed that they communicated with the inmate's wife.

Meanwhile, former BuCor officer-in-charge Rafael Ragos and NBI intelligence agent Jovencio Ablen, Jr. reiterated their testimony in the drug charges vs. De Lima before the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court (RTC) that they delivered money to De Lima's house in 2012 when she was still justice secretary. De Lima branded their testimonies as "outright lies."

De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the Duterte regime, believed that Ragos and Ablen are no different from the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) inmate-witnesses used by the Duterte administration to brazenly mouth false and scripted testimonies against her to link her to illegal drugs.

"These resource persons are easily swayed into perjuring themselves in order to curry undue favors from the powers-that-be, like immunity, retention in employment and even monetary perks or reward. Sell their souls, if they must, to save their own filthy skin," she said.

The lady Senator from Bicol said the Senate should present decent and honest officials to shed light behind the Bucor mess to ferret out the truth and ensure that they are not merely listening to lies and scripted lines.

"Ragos and Ablen were already presented as prosecution witnesses in one of the drug cases against me, and duly cross-examined by defense counsels, revealing cracks and falsities in their testimonies, thereby casting serious doubt on their credibility," she said.

"I don't know why certain colleagues of mine are still dealing with, and listening to Ragos, providing him further platform to spout lies and appear 'heroic'. Are they too naive to be deluded by such a character and/or his handler/s?" she added.

To ensure the truthfulness of testimonies given by witnesses under oath before legislative, judicial, and quasi-judicial proceedings, De Lima urged her colleagues to pass the enhanced anti-perjury bill or Senate Bill (SB) No. 373 that she refiled this 18th Congress.

Under SB No. 373, the penalty for persons committing perjury shall be raised by two degrees from the current arresto mayor or six months or up to two years and two months imprisonment to prision mayor or six years and one day to 10 years.

Source: Senate of the Philippines