Aguirre stands by decision on Napoles, Peter Lim et al. cases

Published April 10, 2018, 6:16 PM

by Roel Tibay

By Jeffrey Damicog

Until his last day, outgoing Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II stood his ground in provisionally placing alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) and in showing support to a panel of prosecutors who dismissed the drug complaint against alleged drug lord Peter Lim and his co-respondents.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II testifies during the third leg of impeachment hearing against Supreme COurt Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno at the House of Representatives, November 28. (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II
(Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

With this, Aguirre also denied allegations that he ordered the dismissal of the complaint against Lim and his co-respondents that was filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s Major Crimes Investigation Unit (PNP-CIDG-MCIU).

“Hindi ko pinakialaman mga prosecutors (I did not interfere with the prosecutors). I never told them to dismiss the case,” Aguirre said during his speech at his last flag-raising ceremony at the Department of Justice (DOJ) today.

Despite this, Aguirre believes the prosecutors should not be blamed for the dismissal of the case due to weak evidence.

“The buck stops with me. It does not matter if I would be dismissed from the service but I stood by you,” he assured prosecutors who handled the complaint.

On the other hand, Aguirre also believes he did the right move in turning Napoles into a state witness.

“I stood by my action in keeping Napoles in the WPP under the provisional law protection,” he said.

“I believe that it is correct that Napoles be allowed to testify, to tell everything, spill the beans and everybody. Para yun guilty, may kinalaman, yun involved (So that those who are guilty and involved) would be brought before the DOJ,” he pointed out.

Recently, newly appointed Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said he will review the dismissal of the drug complaint against Lim and his co-respondents as well as the witness status given Napoles.

“I will review previous actions on the Espinosa and Napoles cases,” Guevarra said.

“That’s top priority in view of the public interest involved,” he explained.

Prior to his resignation, Aguirre drew flak over the two cases.

The DOJ has already issued a certification which stated that: “Janet Lim-Napoles has been provisionally covered by the Witness Protection Security and Benefit Program (WPSBP) effective February 27, 2018.”

On the other hand, a DOJ panel of prosecutors issued a December 20 resolution which dismissed due to weak evidence the complaint filed by the PNP-CIDG-MCIU against Lim and his co-respondents for allegedly violating Section 26(b) in relation to Section 5 (Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals) of Republic Act 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Aside from Lim, those who have been named as respondents in the complaint are self-confessed drug lord Rolan “Kerwin” Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, alleged drug supplier Lovely Impal, drug dealer Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito, and several others who are only known through the aliases Amang, Ricky, Warren, Tupie, Jojo, Jaime, Yawa, Lapi, Royroy, Marlon, and Bay.

The PNP based its complaint on the sworn statements issued by Adorco who was arrested on July 8, 2016 during a drug buy-bust operation in Albuera, Leyte.

After receiving criticisms over the dismissal of the complaint, Aguirre had already ordered the December 20 resolution “vacated” and has formed a new panel of prosecutors to resume the conduct of the preliminary investigation over the complaint.