Press Release
October 7, 2021

De Lima's lawyers seek reconsideration of the dismissal of complaint vs Capones

Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima's legal counsels filed on Oct. 5 a motion for reconsideration asking the Office of the City Prosecutor (OCP) of Muntinlupa City to set aside its decision dismissing criminal complaints they filed against prosecution witness and convicted murderer Joel Capones and his gangmates.

In their Motion for Reconsideration, De Lima's legal counsels said the Honorable Prosecutor committed "grave yet reversible error" in deciding that a judicial confession made by Capones is not a sufficient ground for conviction, unless corroborated by evidence of corpus delicti.

As a witness for the DOJ Panel of Prosecutors in one of De Lima's trumped-up drug cases, Capones confessed to packing and selling shabu with his mayores. Capones waived his right against self-incrimination before making the confession in open court.

"Right from the very start, since what they filed against Senator De Lima are supposed to be drug cases, we have constantly asked the question: 'where is the corpus delicti?' and despite its absence, they went on to file charges against the good Senator who is detained for almost 5 years now," said Atty. Dino de Leon, one of De Lima's legal counsels and spokesperson, in a separate statement.

"Now, in the complaint against Capones charging him with the exact same offense and based on the exact same alleged incidents used in the case against the Senator, the Department of Justice refuses to do its sworn mandate to prosecute criminals who have committed atrocious acts against the people even after he confessed in open court to have committed drug trading. You can see a clear double standard in how the Executive is handling justice in the last 5 years: they vigorously prosecute an innocent Senator to ensure that she will continue to be detained even in the absence of the corpus delicti and based purely on fabrications, but in the case of a self-confessed drug lord, the Executive refuses to lift a finger. War on drugs ba ito, or war against political enemies to gag them into submission?"

"Yung self-confessed drug lord untouchable kasi walang corpus delicti, pero ang inosenteng Senador na kinaladkad lang sa imbentong paratang ay nakakulong. Kapag kay Senator Leila, laway lang ang puhunan, sapat nang kasuhan at ikulong, pero kapag sa iba, ibabasura at ipagkikibit-balikat nila. Malinaw sa records ng mga kaso ang asta ng Department of Justice: hindi ito patas at batay sa tunay na hustisya," he added.

De Leon further stressed: "Aside from the fact na obvious ang double-standard, ang tanong dyan ay bakit hindi man lang mag-subpoena ang DOJ? Kaya nga tinawag na preliminary investigation. Ayaw mag imbestiga man lang kasi nga, ang involved ay ginamit nilang witness kay Senator Leila De Lima. Ano, ayaw nila imbestigahan kasi maaring bumaliktad at magsabi ng katotohanan?"

Last July 9, De Lima and her lawyers filed separate criminal complaints against Capones and his 13 mayores for trading and selling illegal drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP). They lamented that, despite the confession, Capones has not been charged with any crime in relation to the crime he confessed to in open court.

In their motion, De Lima's lawyers said the Honorable Prosecutor failed to properly consider the judicial confession Capones as sufficient evidence to establish probable cause. "The Honorable Prosecutor acknowledged that the evidence of absolute certainty of guilt is not required in the determination of probable cause but he bookended his findings with the reiteration that the overarching finding of probable cause is based on opinion and reasonable belief. He further proceeds to mention that even with the extrajudicial confession, such is not a sufficient ground for conviction," they said.

"The rationale provided by the Honorable Prosecutor goes against the qualification of the determination of probable cause as a preliminary stage that does not require an inquiry into whether there is sufficient evidence to procure a conviction," they added.

The lawyers said that the Honorable Prosecutor should not turn a blind eye to the confession of Respondent Capones and neglect his duty to uncover the truth. "For what else would convince an average reasonable person that a crime was actually committed? An average reasonable person would definitely strongly consider a free and voluntary confession to a crime, that was made before a judge and hold it to be sufficient evidence to indict a person," they said.

Citing statement from the Supreme Court, De Lima's lawyers said that a confession is evidence of a high order that is "supported by the strong presumption that no sane person or one of normal mind will deliberately and knowingly confess himself to be the perpetrator of a crime, unless prompted by truth and conscience."

By turning a blind eye to statements made under oath and in open court, the lawyers said the Honorable Prosecutor would be establishing a dangerous precedent where a prosecutor utterly disregards judicial confessions of a crime and treats it as a useless evidence that can be brushed aside in the determination of probable cause. "Further confirming that a person, regardless if they are appearing before the Courts, may admit to a crime and still get away scot-free. There can be no accountability, much less justice, if the Honorable Prosecutor fails to prosecute a person who deliberately and knowingly confesses to a crime before a Court of law," they added.

In a separate statement, they added, "To be clear, we are not questioning the legal principle that a mere confession, and indeed the mere testimony of an alleged co-conspirator, which is not corroborated by the corpus delicti, is insufficient to put a person on trial, much less for conviction. That has been our unwavering position since 2016. But this complaint against Capones is at the preliminary investigation stage, and yet the DOJ cannot even be moved to lift a finger and issue a subpoena to get him to answer for his own self-confessed crimes? By the same token, the cases against the Senator should never have progressed beyond the DOJ preliminary investigation back in November 2016. Instead, they did their best to waste five years of a human being's life, and an elected Senator's mandate out of fear of the truth she speaks."

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