Incoming DOJ chief open to studying cases vs De Lima

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Incoming DOJ chief open to studying cases vs De Lima
This photo shows Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla (Cavite).
Boying Remulla Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — Incoming Justice Secretary Crispin “Boying” Remulla is open to reviewing the drug cases filed against detained Sen. Leila de Lima, as he flagged the recent recantations against the lawmaker as a “cause of concern.”

Remulla in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source on Tuesday said he is open to reviewing the government’s two drug cases against De Lima, following recantations by three individuals linked in the case.

“That’s already a cause of concern. That’s a red flag that there is something wrong,” he said.

“So we will study it… there is no conviction yet,” Remulla added.

Three persons have retracted their allegations against De Lima who has been detention for more than five years now for conspiracy to commit drug trading charges.

In a span of a month, confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, former Bureau of Corrections Rafael Ragos and De Lima’s co-accused and former aide Ronnie Dayan,

Ragos, the government’s star witness in the case, testified to handing a total of P10 million to De Lima but he later he was coerced to tell that story. Dayan, the latest to recant, is the senator’s co-accused in the second case.

After losing her re-election bid, De Lima said she will focus on the dismissal of her two remaining cases.

Improvement at the DOJ

Other than reviewing De Lima’s cases, Remulla said he is eyeing implementing the national criminal justice information system that would be a central database for pending cases or complaints at the National Bureau of Investigation or Bureau of Immigration, and courts.

“If my proposal is approved we can fix this in a year’s time,” he added.

The incoming justice secretary also said he will fix the data tracking system so documents sent to the department can easily be traced. Through this, offices that stall actions on requests may be identified and be made accountable.

In an earlier interview, Remulla said he has yet to decide on whether he will continue the ambitious “war on drugs” review panel that his would-be predecessor Menardo Guevarra started.

“Pag inabot ko yan, pag dumating sa lap ko, we will decide. Tingnan ko muna initial results kung kinakailangan.”

(If I inherit it, if it falls onto my lap, we will decide. We will first look at initial results to see if it [continuity] is needed.)

Remulla, who has unapologetically red-tagged in the past, also admitted that he is still unfamiliar with Administrative Order 35, which authorizes review of politically-motivated killings including that of activists. But he stressed he will operate on a “justice for all” mandate.

In his interview on Tuesday however, he admitted that while he is outspoken, he would need to be more “reserved” with his words as justice secretary. “We will have to tone down a little on that… convert into action,” he added.

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