The Muntinlupa City regional trial court has sustained its order allowing former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) chief Rafael Ragos to again testify and recant his allegations against detained former Senator Leila De Lima.
In a four-page order, the Muntinlupa City RTC Branch 204 denied for lack of merit the prosecution’s motion, saying it presents no cogent justification for reconsideration.
“This Court recaps that the interests of justice would best be served if the supposed recantation of Mr. Ragos be tested in a public trial with a sufficient opportunity given the prosecution to cross-examine the recanting witness,” stated the court order, a copy of which furnished
the Department of Justice.
Ragos was unable to testify in the September 30 hearing of De Lima’s case due to the motion of reconsideration filed against the court’s earlier decision.
Last May, Ragos recanted his allegation against De Lima. The court stressed that recantations are viewed with “suspicion and reservation” and that it looks upon retractions of testimonies with “disfavor.”
“Mere retraction by a prosecution witness does not necessarily vitiate the original testimony. To disregard testimony solemnly given in court simply because the witness recants ignores the possibility that intimidation or monetary considerations may have caused the recantation,” the trial court said.
“Before allowing the recantation, therefore, the Court must not be too willing to accept it, but must test its value in a public trial with sufficient opportunity given to the adverse party to cross-examine the recanting witness,” it added.
According to the court, it will determine which testimony will be given credence through comparison.
“The Court should determine which testimony should be given credence through a comparison of the original testimony and the new testimony, applying the general rules of evidence,” it said.
“Thus, Mr. Ragos must be recalled and presented in court,” it added.
De Lima’s next hearing will take place on October 28 and November 4, 2022.
The former senator has been detained at Camp Crame since 2017 over the accusation that she benefitted from the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was Justice secretary.
One of the three drug charges against her was dismissed by the Muntinlupa court in February last year.