I’M posing this question in the aftermath of the ‘secret decision’ made by a panel of prosecutors from the Department of Justice to dismiss the charges filed by the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group against suspected Filipino-Chinese drug lord Peter Lim and 21 others last December 20.
The DOJ resolution could have been a secret until now until a government source recently furnished me a copy of the decision made five days before Christmas and kept under wraps for weeks. It was really a ‘secret’ until People’s Journal and People’s tonight last Monday published the story and prompted the DOJ to finally come up with a statement blaming the alleged weak evidence presented by the PNP-CIDG in dismissing for lack of probable cause the charges filed against Lim et al.
A private lawyer-friend who read the DOJ resolution said that it would be naturally used by the camp of jailed opposition Senator Leila de Lima—already in detention for over a year now— as another defense. Imagine, the drug cases filed against de Lima and Peter Lim et al were just almost the same and dealt on the thing called ‘conspiracy.’
The lawyer also reminded me that the DOJ also cited the ‘conspiracy’ angle in recommending criminal charges against members of the Aegis Juris fraternity accused of involvement in the cover-up of their brothers who were believed to have killed UST law freshman Horacio ‘Atio’ Castillo III.
The old English saying ‘What is sauce for the goose is the sauce for the gander’ really applies here. I’m not a fan of Sen. de Lima or the young Castillo but the DOJ filed charges against the lawmaker and the Aegis Juris frat members citing ‘conspiracy’ but in the case of Peter Lim et al, dismissed the conspiracy charges against the latter and his co-accused citing weak evidence.
Last Monday, PNP chief, General Ronald ‘Bato’ dela Rosa and PNP-CIDG chief, Director Roel Obusan said they will exert all efforts to seek a reversal of the DOJ decision which exonerated Lim, the man accused by President Duterte of being one of the country’s top drug lords and 21 others including confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
I learned from many highly-reliable sources that the PNP leadership will relay their complaint regarding the DOJ resolution to President Duterte. It appears that even President Duterte was unaware of the DOJ ruling. However, Obusan, a lawyer-classmate from PMA Class 1986 of Gen. dela Rosa said they are not applying ‘pressure’ on the DOJ but was optimistic that the DOJ leadership will act favorably on their motion for reconsideration citing the merits of their case.
I was told that the following factors that could trigger the reversal of the decision: First, the resolution’s emphasis in the case of Salapuddin vs Court of Appeals is highly misplaced. The cited case is clearly inapplicable to the present case since Marcelo Adorco—a confessed bodyguard-driver of Espinosa- has not retracted nor withdrew from testifying. If the government will accept the reasons of the resolution on the point of whole-scale exclusion of co-conspirators declaration, then all the rules concerning state witnesses or even witness protection are useless.
Second, the resolution’s emphasis on the supposed inconsistencies and credibility of Adorco’s testimony is a matter best to be calibrated by the trial court and with the decision, the DOJ appears to have stepped into the shoes of the trial judge contrary to the high court’s pronouncement in a rosary of cases.
Third, the “resolution appears to have abandoned the position of the government in the case of Sen. de Lima vs Judge Guerero where it was argued that violation of Sec. 26 (b) of Ra 9165 requires no presentation of prohibited substance whether the conspired crime was completed or not.’
“The resolution now declares that for Section 26 (b) to apply, the agreed crime must yet to be consummated or completed.” I was told that if the government will apply the rationale of the DOJ resolution in case of Sen. de Lima, it is obvious that there is still a need to present the prohibited drugs in as much as the trafficking that took place inside the National Bilibid Prisons were all completed or consummated as alleged by the witnesses against de Lima.
It is also very glaring that the December 20, 2017 decision issued by a DOJ panel was not made public until this week. Thus, it has angered government and law enforcement officials who were responsible for the filing of charges for violation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 against Peter Lim and company.
Many of my sources have told me that as far as they are concerned, President Duterte was not informed about it. In July 2016, President Duterte met with Peter Lim and even threatened to kill him to his face while warning the latter to steer clear of narcotics. “I will execute you … I will finish you off,” the President said during the meeting inside the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency office in Davao City.
During their meeting, the businessman denied that he was the alleged Chinese-Filipino drug dealer Peter Lim alias ‘Jaguar’ who was singled out by the President in an address on national television on July 7, 2016. Lim was later investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation. Let’s wait for an angry President’s word on this matter.