Earlier, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II stressed that alleged drug lords Peter Lim and self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa are not yet off the hook as the case is not for review at his office.

Miguel de Guzman
Aguirre: PNP filed a weak complaint
Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) - March 14, 2018 - 11:29am
MANILA, Philippines — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday pinned the blame on the weak case filed by the Philippine National Police for the dropping of raps against alleged drug lords.
 
"The National Prosecution Service only acts on evidence submitted to our state prosecutors," Aguirre told DzMM.
 
The justice chief was reacting to the heavy criticism thrown at the Department of Justice for dropping the drug trading complaints filed by the PNP against alleged drug lord Peter Lim, inmate Peter Co, self-confessed drug trader Kerwin Espinosa and others. 
 
Aguirre noted that most criticisms pointed out that Espinosa has already confessed to trading drugs in the Visayas during a Senate legislative hearing and yet the complaint was dropped.
 
However, the justice chief stressed that Espinosa's confession was not included in the police's complaints.
 
"Our state prosecutors are not obligated to listen to congressional hearings," he said, adding that the complainants should have asked for a transcript or stenographic notes of Espinosa's confession and attached it to their complaint.
 
 
He added that the complainants could have just asked for more time to file additional evidence and the DOJ could have granted them an extension.

Prosecution procedure

The justice chief also lamented President Rodrigo Duterte's comment that his head would replace Espinosa's or Lim's should the two go scot-free from their drug raps.
 
 
In a separate text message to reporters, Aguirre said: "It is unfortunate but I have nothing to do with the issuance of the resolution by the NPS."
 
"We could only intervene if the case is brought to us in petition in review or on automatic review. That has not happened yet," he added.
 
Aguirre stressed that the case is still pending with the NPS, an arm under the DOJ. He told DzMM that the complainants could still a motion for reconsideration.
 
Only when the complainants file a separate petition for review, upon dismissal of complaint or appeal, will it be elevated to the Office of the Justice Secretary.
 
He added that as the case is still pending at the NPS, it can be re-filed unlike in courts where there is a risk of double jeopardy.
 
To note, state prosecutors are tasked to determine whether a case has probable cause to indict respondents. Upon issuing a resolution, the case will be elevated to a trial court.
 
"If that was filed in court, and that was dismissed, you cannot file that anymore," Aguirre said.
 
According to law library website batasnatin.com, double jeopardy means that "when a person is charged with an offense and the case is terminated either by conviction or acquittal, or in any other manner without the consent of the accused, the latter cannot again be charged with the same identical offense." 
 
Nevertheless, Aguirre vowed that his department would look thoroughly into this.
 
On Tuesday night, the justice chief formed a new panel of prosecutors to look into the motion for reconsideration filed by the PNP.
 
On Wednesday early morning. Aguirre ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe if the first panel of prosecutors committed offenses when they dismissed the drug raps.
 

DOJ KERWIN ESPINOSA PETER LIM VITALIANO AGUIRRE
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