By Fred Lobo
Department of Justice (DOJ) Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre has nullified the dismissal of drug-related cases against alleged drug lords Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim in the wake of public uproar and President Duterte’s wishes.
The case is now “wide open” and concerned parties can submit new evidence, he said.
“I issued an order (March 19), vacating the dismissal of the case, so much so that there’s no such dismissal anymore. And I ordered the case be ordered wide open for both parties — the complainants and the respondents — to file whatever evidence they have in support of their respective position(s),” Aguirre told Malacanang reporters.
Nationwide uproar over the dismissal and Duterte’s wishes weighed in, he admitted.
“In the meantime, the motion for reconsideration filed by the CIDG is rendered moot. There’s no dismissal already. The case is now wide open for the submission of all evidence,” he added.
Power of automatic review exercised, accordingly by DOJ head.
Aguirre noted there was public uproar over a DOJ resolution signed in December, 2017, by DOJ prosecutors dismissing the drug charges against Espinosa, Lim, alleged drug queen Lovely Impal, and others.
Why dismiss the drug charges? Did money talk? the people asked.
Duterte reportedly punched the wall in anger in Malacanang after learning about the DOJ resolution and ordered a review.
Why undermine my anti-drug campaign?, the President apparently fumed.
“(Now) the prosecution still has the chance to strengthen its evidence by securing a copy of the transcripts, stenographic notes, and submitting it to the panel,” Aguirre said last Tuesday.
“The dismissal of the panel is now vacated and the case is remanded back to the new prosecutors that I have appointed. And the parties are free and required to submit all their evidence, in support of their position,” he added.
Aguirre clarified that the case is “not back to zero,” as the new panel will still have to consider the evidence presented prior, as well as accept new documents and testimonies, in connection with the cases.
Pieces of evidence to be consolidated.
Aguirre said he formed a new panel of prosecutors to thoroughly review the charges of violation of Section 26 (b) (conspiracy) in relation to Section 5 (sale) of Republic Act 9165, the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, that were filed by the CIDG Major Crimes Investigation Unit against the two suspected drug lords and their cohorts.
Look deeper, boys.
Aguirre also revealed that “because of the nationwide uproar, actually, because of this backlash, I ordered the investigaton [to the alleged drug lords], as well as the prosecutors involved here.”
Now comes a wider probe.
Aguirre said the dismissal, based on” weak evidence,” was recommended by then state prosecutors Michael John Humarang and Aristotle Reyes, and was approved by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rassendell Rex Gingoyon and Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan, Jr.
Weak evidence despite admission? DU30 and many others frowned.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has brandished tough penalties, including death , against drug traffickers, a move seen by many as an endorsement of President Duterte’s policy.
The Donald dancing with Digong the Punisher?
“Toughness is the thing that they most fear….This is about winning a very, very tough problem and if we don’t get very tough on these dealers it’s not going to happen folk…I want to win this battle,” Trump said in opioids-hit New Hampshire.
“Donald J. Duterte,” a US placard brandished. And DU30 and Malacanang Boys look thrilled.