De Lima camp denies convict's testimony on receiving drug money

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 24) – The camp of detained Sen. Leila de Lima maintained she did not receive ₱1.4 million worth of drug money from the late drug lord Jaybee Sebastian when she was Justice Secretary.

Atty. Boni Tacardon, De Lima's lawyer, emphasized that convict Joel Capones' testimony showed he had selective memory.

"May mga natatandaan syang mga petsa, mga sirkumstansya, mga personalidad pero marami rin syang hindi natatandaan, lalo na kung ang tinatanong namin yung mga bagay na may tendency na sumira sa kredibilidad nya bilang isang testigo," said Tacardon.

[Translation: He can remember some dates, circumstances, and personalities but he cannot recall many things, especially when we ask things that have the tendency to taint his credibility as a witness.]

Tacardon also denied that De Lima came alone inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP), stating that she needed to be accompanied by the Bureau of Corrections director when doing inspection inside the national penitentiary.

During the hearing at the Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 256 on Tuesday, Capones elaborated how De Lima received the money from Sebastian in a meeting inside NBP's Bahay na Bato in March 2014.

"He delivered first the money to Jaybee Sebastian, ₱1.4 million. Jaybee Sebastian then gave the money to then Secretary De Lima. It was part of the testimony," said lead prosecutor Sonny Ocampo.

Capones mentioned in last week's hearing of the same case that Sebastian asked him to be part of the illegal drugs trade inside the NBP to raise funds for the senatorial candidacy of De Lima.

De Lima's camp also filed a motion to include Capones as a respondent to the case, instead of being just a witness, citing his knowledge in the NBP illegal drug trade operations.

De Lima marks her fourth year of detention today at the Philippine National Police Custodian Center over charges of involvement in illegal drug trade inside the NBP. Last week, the detained senator was acquitted in one of her three drug cases by Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205.