MANILA — Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla on Tuesday rejected growing calls for his resignation following the arrest of his son on drug charges last week.
“It will not happen. I will not comment anymore on the other issues there, but it will not happen,” he said in his first press conference since returning from a working visit in Geneva, Switzerland.
Remulla’s son, Juanito Jose III, was arrested by members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in possession of almost a kilo of “kush” or high grade marijuana worth P1.25 million after allegedly receiving a parcel in his home in Las Piñas on Oct. 11.
The younger Remulla is facing a charge of illegal possession of drugs before a Las Piñas court, while another complaint for importation of illegal drugs will undergo preliminary investigation before the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office.
The arrest prompted calls for Sec. Remulla’s resignation, even among some lawmakers who questioned how impartial probes can be conducted by prosecutors under the watch of his agency, the Department of Justice (DOJ).
But for Remulla, leaving his post is not his decision to make.
“That is not my call. I am a very honorable person when it comes to this. It’s the President’s call,” he said.
“And if I feel later on that I’m not anymore effective in this position then I will talk to the President about what has to be done in the future,” he added.
Remulla said he has talked to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., who publicly expressed support for his continued stay in office.
“The moment I arrived, I called him immediately when I landed. And I spoke to him,” Remulla said. “He just said he commiserates with my plight as a parent, that’s all.”
“And he said just go back to work because we need you, sabi niya, we have to start working again in the local scene since you were able to do well in the international scene. We need you again in the local scene to do what has to be done, to continue what we’ve been doing, what we’ve started doing to reform the justice system,” he added.
Remulla, who had vowed not to intervene in his son’s case, said he had yet to talk to his 38-year-old son since his arrest.
“I haven’t talked to him actually, since the beginning. I’ve stayed away from the case. I have not talked to anybody. I have not asked anybody any favor,” he said, declining to comment on whether he will visit his son.
“I just talked to a cousin of mine who’s a lawyer, who will start or has started representing him already. That’s all, everything that I have to do with the case. I have nothing else to do with the case,” he added.
Remulla said he would not talk to Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento about the case.
The Prosecutor General heads the National Prosecution Service.
Remulla also vowed not to entertain any appeal on his son’s case.
“That's the question that was asked me by the lawyers who I talked to. Sabi ko, if there is a resolution, don't let it reach the DOJ. Let it be discussed in court, whatever the case may be,” he said.
“If it’s an adverse case against my son, it will not be appealed here. It will go straight to the courts for trial,” he added.
Addressing questions of “delicadeza”, Remulla said, “No comment basta I know myself.
“I know it’s not only me on trial here. It’s my son on trial, it’s the country on trial in some ways. It’s par for the course. It happens,” he said.
“I think I’m calm enough to face anybody about any issue. And I cannot be baited into discussing things which do not need discussing from me. Because as I’ve said, I’ve recused myself from the very beginning,” he continued.
Remulla however thanked everyone who expressed support for the family.
“We are holding up very well. My wife my mother, my children, my brothers and sisters are all supportive and I’d like to thank those people who have sent me statement of support — Viber, text and all messaging platforms. I appreciate the statements of support,” he said, including members of the DOJ whom he urged to focus on their job.
“I said we just go back to work because this will not change the flow of work that we have to do... We have to really have to work and finish these reforms that have to be laid out to make our justice system better,” he said.
Remulla spent much of the press conference however touting the success of his Geneva working visit, where he attended conferences on human rights, refugees and the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights.
Calling the visit “productive,” Remulla said the gains of the Philippine government from the trip included the absence of any approved resolution concerning the human rights situation in the Philippines.
A UN Human Rights Council resolution in 2019 ordered a comprehensive report on the Philippine situation, which in 2020 led to the creation of the UN Joint Program on Human Rights aimed at providing capacity-building and technical cooperation to the country.
Remulla said several reforms are in the pipeline, including prison decongestion reforms and attempts to make law enforcement transparent and better understood by the people while not allowing transgressions.
He said he also clarified issues surrounding the Anti-Terrorism Act, red-tagging and alleged extrajudicial killings.
“It is not state policy to have anybody killed, di ba? Kasi yung sinasabing EJK, hindi ho state policy yan,” he said.
“We will not tolerate abuse of State power,” he added.