MANILA - The Department of Justice on Wednesday said it has started an investigation on public prosecutors who dismissed drug charges against alleged big time drug lords Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim and several others.
In an undated department order released to the media on Wednesday, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II directed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) "to conduct investigation and case build-up to determine possible misfeasance, malfeasance or non-feasance or other violations of law by members of the panel of the National Prosecution Service over the dismissal of the case."
The 41-page resolution junking the complaint of the Philippine National Police (PNP) was issued by Assistant State Prosecutors Aristotle Reyes and Michael John Humarang, who conducted the preliminary investigation into the complaint. The ruling was approved by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rassendell Rex Gingoyon and Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan, Jr.
The case involves the alleged distribution of at least 90-kilos of methamphetamine hydrochloride ("shabu") in regions 7 and 8 by Espinosa's group in 2013 and 2015. The complaint also alleged that four similar drug transactions and deliveries, with an unspecified volume of "shabu," with Lim as supplier, took place in 2014
Apart from Lim, whom the complaint described as the same druglord known as 'Jaguar,' Espinosa, and convicted druglord Co who is now serving time at the New Bilibid Prisons, the other respondents in the case are Marcelo L. Adorco, Max Miro, Lovely Impal alias 'Lovely,' Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito, Jermy alias 'Amang,' alias 'Ricky,' alias 'Warren,' alias 'Tupie,' alias 'Jojo,' alias 'Jaime,' alias 'Yawa,' alias 'Lapi,' alias 'Royroy,' alias 'Marlon,' alias 'Bay,' and several unidentified others.
In its resolution, the panel said no drug evidence was presented by the police and Adorco's testimony against the other respondents was "unreliable" and "uncorroborated."
It was further stressed that "such bare and uncorroborated testimony alone… would open the flood gates to malicious and unwarranted prosecutions and in so doing, renege on our task to objectively and independently determine the cases that need to be filed in court and the persons who should be indicted for the criminal acts."
In a separate undated department order earlier released to the media, the DOJ also designated a new panel of prosecutors to resolve the PNP's motion for reconsideration filed on February 22.
The new panel is composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Assistant State Prosecutor Ana Noreen Devanadera, who have both been handling the department's major drug cases, and Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan.
Apart from criticisms hurled at the DOJ and Secretary Aguirre on the dismissal of the case, presidential Spokesman Harry Roque bared on Tuesday that President Duterte was "disappointed" over the DOJ resolution.
Roque said the president "admonished" Aguirre, and quoted the president to have said,
"[Kapag] nakawala yan si Lim at Espinosa, siya ang ipapalit ko. I can review that dismissal order. Nag-amin na nga sa Congress! Why not admit it as evidence against him?" .
"I will invoke my power of supervision and control and will review dismissal," the President said, according to Roque.