MANILA — Newly-installed Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla on Monday vowed to go after syndicates in three key agencies under the Department of Justice — the Land Registration Authority, the Bureau of Immigration and the Bureau of Corrections.
In a speech shortly after his first flag raising ceremony at the DOJ’s main office along Padre Faura in Manila, Remulla said he will prioritize reforms in the three agencies.
“Unahin na natin ang LRA na kahapon, nung kine-kuwento sa'kin ng malapit na kaibigan na law practitioner, ikinuwento nya sa’kin ang aktibidad ng sindikato na naroroon na nananaig sa sistema ng LRA, sindikato na may tao sa halos lahat ng sangay ng gobyerno,” he said.
“At ito po ay isang hamon sa atin. Kayo ba dito na kasama ko ay papayag na tumagal pa ang sindikatong ito na marahil darating ang isang araw na lahat ng tahanan natin ay makuha na nila kapag ating pinayagan na sila ay manaig pa sa ating lipunan?” he added.
Remulla slammed alleged extortion, human trafficking and protection syndicates at the Bureau of Immigration.
The Ombudsman has charged 43 Immigration personnel in connection with the “Pastillas” bribery scam where Chinese nationals were given express entry into the country in exchange for money wrapped in paper.
Both the DOJ and the Ombudsman ordered the dismissal of some of the Immigration personnel involved.
The Immigration bureau also figured in an alleged bribery-extortion scam involving gaming tycoon Jack Lam.
Former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II admitted meeting Lam but said he rejected the bribery attempt.
“The sad thing about the Bureau of Immigration is that they exercise sovereign powers. It is the face of the country and we Filipinos have a duty to protect our own country, what more for the frontline organization that people see when they enter and leave the country?” Remulla said.
“Gusto niyo bang magtagal pa ang ganitong imahe ng ating bansa dahil may departamento, may isang opisina na nakakalimot na sa kaniyang mandate na paglingkuran ang taumbayan?” he added.
He also cited what he called unceasing syndicate activities at the Bureau of Corrections which, he said, destroys the country.
Among the three agencies Remulla named, only the LRA was among the five previously identified by the DOJ as “graft-prone.”
The other four not mentioned by Remulla are the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Bureau of Customs, the Bureau of Internal Revenue and state health insurer PhilHealth.
Remulla however clarified that 95 to 99 percent of the people in these agencies may be beyond reproach but are tainted by a few bad eggs.
He pledged that under his watch, the DOJ will uphold the rule of law.
“Ang rule of law ang manaig sa ating bansa. Tayo po ang frontline sa lahat ng ito, at kailangan po umandar ang sistema ng hustisya na walang kinikilingan, dapat pantay-pantay,” he said.
In the same speech, Remulla said he did not apply for the Justice secretary post but could not refuse the invitation of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
He was offered the post on May 12, or three days after the May 9 polls.
“Sino ba naman ako para tumanggi sa alok at hamon na binigay ng ating pangulo? Thirty-one million people said, direct voters said that he will lead our country and who am I to say no to a challenge by the man chosen by the people?” he said.
“Maybe he chose me because I can get things done. That is the ultimate reason probably why I was chosen by the President and that I accept challenges. I have accepted all the challenges given me in my whole political life and probably my whole professional life,” he added.
Remulla served as assistant secretary at the Presidential Management Staff during the term of former President Joseph Estrada.
He also served and was reelected as Cavite representative.
Remulla has yet to introduce his undersecretaries and assistant secretaries. But among those present at the flag raising ceremony was lawyer Jesse Andres, who had earlier confirmed he will be part of Remulla’s team although he has yet to divulge in what capacity.
Career officials Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento and Chief State Counsel George Ortha II were also present.
“You can expect me to be totally committed to our cause, totally committed to what the Department of Justice stands for and what we should stand for. And I can tell you without batting an eyelash, that I am ready to give my life for this, wala hong ifs or buts,” Remulla said to applause from DOJ staff.
“And at 61 years old, I think I have reached the height of any career that a man can want in this country. I have no other dreams or aspirations. As I told the President, 'I will stay with you for the whole 6 years, from day 1 to the last' without thinking of myself or any other opportunity.' Wala na po 'yan sa ating iniisip,” he said.
He urged Justice personnel to give their best under his watch.
“Sana po magtulungan tayo. In the Department of Justice, I can say that I expect 99.9 percent of everybody to be committed to the vision. And to the 0.1 percent that is not, probably it will be a different day for all of them,” he said.