Guevarra to meet Remulla to ensure 'smooth' transition in DOJ

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2022 07:27 PM

MANILA — Outgoing Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra will meet with incoming Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin "Boying" Remulla on Thursday.

“Together with our senior officials, I will give Cong. Remulla and his team a briefing on DOJ operations, programs, and projects on Thursday, June 9. We shall ensure a smooth and orderly transition at the DOJ,” Guevarra told reporters Friday.

Among the topics that will be discussed during next Thursday’s meeting are Guevarra’s suggestions to the incoming Justice chief.

“We will suggest the following to the incoming Justice Secretary:

a) maintain our excellent record in anti-human trafficking;
b) strengthen the campaign against cybercrimes;
c) pursue the 3-year joint program with the UN on human rights promotion and protection;
d) develop alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation;
e) transfer the NBP and professionalize the BUCOR;
f) regionalize prison facilities;
g) complete the single carpeta system (digitization of all prison records);
h) pursue the immigration modernization bill;
i) strengthen relations with law enforcement agencies and the judiciary,” he said.

The joint program on human rights with the United Nations was the result of a UN Human Rights Council resolution in response to the drug war killings in the Philippines.

Human rights groups within and outside the country have pushed for an independent international probe on the killings but Guevarra, in a statement before the UN Human Rights Council in June 2020, assured the international community that the Philippine DOJ is already conducting a drug war review and promised to share information with the Commission on Human Rights.

Except for a matrix of 52 cases released to the public, the DOJ has yet to publicize the full results of its drug war review.

“The drug war review is distinct from the UN joint program. But we’ll recommend to the incoming SOJ to pursue the drug war review to its logical conclusion,” he said.

Under Guevarra’s term, the Bureau of Corrections became controversial when the implementation of the Good Conduct Time Allowance law almost resulted in the release of convicted rapist former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez.

Sanchez’s release order was recalled and he eventually died in jail in March last year but not before problems in the implementation of the GCTA law were exposed, which included a problematic carpeta system.

A single digitized carpeta system was proposed as the solution.

Guevarra said he will suggest its completion to the incoming Justice chief.

The transfer of the New Bilibid Prison, meanwhile, will “not necessarily” be in Nueva Ecija as earlier floated, according to Guevarra.

The Immigration bureau was also plagued with the "pastillas scam", a bribery scandal involving immigration officers who facilitate quick entry of Chinese nationals in exchange for money.

Modernizing the bureau is seen as a possible answer to the problem.

Not included in Guevarra’s list of suggestions is the probe of the AO 35 task force on the "Bloody Sunday" killings of activists.

DOJ prosecutors have initiated investigations into the deaths of at least 3 activists but Guevarra said they’ll give it their “best effort” to finish the probes “whatever (case) is ripe for resolution.”

Pressed for details, Guevarra referred the query to the AO 35 committee and the special investigation teams.

Guevarra will leave the Justice department after a little over 4 years in office.

He was appointed on April 5, 2018 to replace former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II who resigned after figuring in several controversies.

A product of both the Ateneo Law School and University of the Philippines School of Economics, he vowed to restore the “dignified and respectable image” of the DOJ when he stepped into office.

Remulla, on the other hand, served as House representative of Cavite for several terms and was re-elected to another term before he accepted his appointment as incoming Justice secretary.