Boying Remulla tapped as next Justice secretary

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2022 09:05 AM | Updated as of May 24 2022 01:05 AM

MANILA (UPDATE 3) - Cavite Rep. Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla on Monday confirmed that he has been tapped as the next Justice Secretary of presumptive President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

"I’ve accepted it. It’s an honor… It’s a very rare opportunity given to lawyers like us," Remulla told reporters in a virtual interview.

"Marami kaming naging conversation ni incoming President Marcos during the campaign… At that time, I had no idea I was being considered… The other specific things, we will talk about it later kasi maraming mali sa ating Justice system na dapat itama natin, iwasto natin," he added.

"Kaya nagkakaroon ng problema sa bayan, kaya nagkakaroon ng pag-aalsa, hindi naman dahil sa poverty but because of injustice."

Asked if his appointment is linked to the 1.12 million votes Cavite delivered for Marcos, he said: "I don’t know. I didn’t apply for it. I was called for it."

"Tumakbo ako para maglingkod bilang representante, pero kapag tinawag ka ng pangulo, paano ka tatanggi kung ang iyong bayan ay maraming problema na puwede mong matulungan na iayos?" he said.

"Do your duty as a citizen. We have to make our nation-state a better nation-state."

Marcos said Remulla would "fit very nicely in the DOJ."

"He has a great many years of experience in government, and not known to many, he is absolutely a very, very good lawyer," the incoming President said in a separate press briefing.

Remulla said he has enjoyed a close relationship with Marcos Jr. since 2007, when they were both members of the House of Representatives.

"Marami na kaming pinagsamahan in the past. We were together from 2007 to 2010 in the House... We would always have conversations talaga," he said. 

"I had 2 or 3 chances to travel with him... Parang he was hinting to me already, kahit wala pa yung boto, na he wanted me there."

VACANT HOUSE SEAT

Remulla would have to give up his post as Cavite's 7th district representative after winning his re-election bid in the May 2022 elections.

He ran unopposed and garnered 202,784 votes, based on partial, unofficial results aggregated from Comelec data as of May 13, 2022, 2:47 p.m. and from 499 election returns.

Under the law, officials have the option to either appoint a caretaker or hold a special election for Cavite's 7th district representative post that Remulla will vacate.

"I would prefer na mayroon pa rin nakaupo sa distrito ko because mahalaga yan sa pagsuporta sa pangulo natin," he said.

"That's one more congressman for the president, hopefully."

Remulla did not directly answer if he prefers to appoint a caretaker, but noted that holding a special election for his district would require a lot of requirements.

"I'm not worried about it very much kasi nakikita ko naman yung mga nangyayari dati kung mayroon mang special election or kung mayroon mang caretaker, it works well," he said.

Remulla, a former governor of Cavite, campaigned for Marcos Jr. and incoming Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio in his home province.

In March, he drew flak for alleging that thousands of Caviteños who attended Vice President Leni Robredos campaign rally were either paid or are connected to the communist movement. 

Remulla stood by his claims, but did not provide evidence.

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PROBE ON EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS, DRUG WAR

As Justice secretary, Remulla will head a panel authorized to investigate politically motivated killings, including that of activists.

He is also expected to continue investigations about abuses under President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war, which has killed thousands of drugs suspects, including minors.

"Kapag inabot ko yan, kapag dumating sa lap ko, before I decide, titingnan ko muna yung results kung ano ang kinakailangan," he said.

"That has to be decided properly given the facts and the situation. Tingnan muna natin ang initial results kung talagang nagiindicate na kinakailangan pag-aralan pa, gagawin natin. Duty natin yan," he said.

"Kakampi o kalaban, mayaman o mahirap, lahat basta't Pilipino. Kahit nga banyaga kailangan irespeto natin ang kanilang karapatan."

Remulla said he has yet to meet Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to hand over investigations and discuss issues involving the DOJ.

"I've been studying the structure pero bago kasi tayo makipagusap, dapat mayroon na tayong prior information para hindi naman tayo starting from blank," Remulla said.

"Marami pa tayong pag-aaralan bago kami mag-usap and I think we have the whole month of June to study it, to create a good transition para sa trabaho," he said.

"The opportunity is there to do a good job and to start fresh and sana maging smooth nga ang lahat. I expect it to be smooth."

In the 18th Congress, Remulla served as Senior Deputy Majority Leader and vice chairperson of the House Committee on Good Government And Public Accountability.

In 2020, he was among lawmakers who blocked ABS-CBN from renewing its franchise bid, accusing one of the Philippines' largest broadcasters of skirting tax laws even if the Bureau of Internal Revenue cleared the media giant of any cases.