Witness stands by testimony vs. de Lima on P1.4-M bribe

Philippine News Agency
February 23, 2021

Detained Senator Leila de Lima (File photo)

MANILA – Defense counsels of former justice secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday failed to debunk claims of a prosecution witness who identified the lawmaker to have received PHP1.4 million from the late prison gang boss and convicted drug lord Jaybee Sebastian seven years ago.

After a two-hour cross-examination by the defense counsel, PDL (person deprived of liberty) Joel Capones, during the resumption of hearings before the Muntinlupa court, identified again de Lima as the person who was present when he delivered PHP1.4 million inside Sebastian’s quarters at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) during the anniversary celebration of the Sigue-Sigue Commando prison gang.

"His testimony is very clear as far as we are concerned. We leave it to the court for its appreciation of our evidence as far as the gist of the testimony of Joel Capones," prosecution panel chief Ramoncito Ocampo told reporters.

Prosecutors added that they will be asking to be allowed redirect examination once the defense completes its cross-examination when the hearings resume on April 16.

"There were a lot of misleading questions (during the cross-examination) so we see the need to clarify (during redirect examination)," State prosecutor Darwin Canete said.

Ocampo reiterated that Capones was acting on the impulse of survival and was convinced by Sebastian to cooperate in drug sale operations behind bars after the inmate saw how influential Sebastian was with prison officials.

Capones decided to give up selling drugs after he was informed he was eligible for release in October 2014.

"He opted to discontinue after he was summoned by the prison overseer's office informing him that he is number 89 in the list of possible inmates to be released,” Ocampo said.

Capones last week testified that Sebastian handed over to de Lima PHP1.4 million in drug money at the former’s so-called “Bahay na Bato” inside the NBP sometime in 2014.

Last February 16, Capones said under oath that on December 2013, Sebastian asked him to engage in illegal drug trade inside and out of the NBP to raise funds to support the senatorial bid of de Lima who was then the DOJ Secretary. (PNA)

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