JUSTICE Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the prosecutors who dismissed the drug cases against Cebu businessman Peter Lim, confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, and several others.
Aguirre’s move came in the wake of President Rodrgio Duterte’s angry reaction to the reported exoneration of Lim et al who were on the President’s drug list.
Aguirre tasked the NBI to investigate and do a possible case build-up to see if the members of the National Prosecution Service (NPS) violated the law with the dismissal of the complaint against the suspected drug personalities filed by the PNP.
“In the interest of the service...the NBI, through Director Dante A. Gierran, is hereby directed and granted authority to conduct investigation and case build-up to determine possible misfeasance, malfeasance or non-feasance or other violations of law by members of the panel of the NPS over the dismissal of the case entitled: “PNP-CIDG-MCIU vs. Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa et al” and if evidence so warrants, to file appropriate charges thereon,” read Aguirre’s order.
Under the Revised Penal Code, malfeasance is an act prohibited by law or doing an act ought not to be done while misfeasance is the improper or irregular performance of an act and nonfeasance is the non performance, failure or refusal to do an act which one is required to do.
A DoJ panel of prosecutors issued a resolution dated December 20, 2017 which dismissed the complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s Major Crimes Investigation Unit (PNP-CIDG-MCIU) against Lim and his co-respondents for allegedly violating the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Aside from Lim, Espinosa and Co, those who were named as respondents in the complaint were alleged drug supplier Lovely Impal, alleged drug dealer Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito, and several others who are only known by the aliases Amang, Ricky, Warren, Tupie, Jojo, Jaime, Yawa, Lapi, Royroy, Marlon, and Bay.
The resolution was signed by Assistant State Prosecutors Michael John Humarang and Aristotle Reyes with the approving signatures of Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan Jr. and Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Rassendell Rex Gingoyon.
Some lawmakers dismayed by the exoneration of several high-profile drug suspects called for the resignation of Aguirre.
The Makabayan bloc, composed of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, ACT Teacher and Kabataan party-lists, condemned a DoJ panel resolution absolving of drug trafficking charges against suspected drug triad leader Peter Lim, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, and several other suspected drug peddlers.
“Kung may delicadeza itong si Aguirre dapat siyang mag-resign, nagmamaang-maangan pa siya na mukhang hindi nila alam ang kinalabasan ng imbestigasyon.’’
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, asked Aguirre what is the “probable cost” for the dismissal of charges versus Espinosa and Lim.
Barbers condemned the DoJ prosecutors for clearing the two from drug involvement when Espinosa has openly and voluntarily admitted under oath before the Senate investigation in August 2017 that he is indeed involved in illegal drug trafficking in Regions 7 and 8.
Espinosa further admitted that Peter Go Lim is one of his suppliers of illegal drugs.
Barbers likewise said he observed that lately, the DoJ has been dismissing drug cases due to alleged insufficiency of evidence, which he finds very alarming, just like in the case of former Customs Commissioner Faeldon whose liability was so glaring yet was cleared by the DoJ.
Meanwhile, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, leader of the House Magnificent 7, said the ultimate responsibility for the errant dismissal of the criminal case is lodged with President Duterte and his alter ego, Aguirre.
No less than the President previously accused Lim of drug offenses while Espinosa has confessed his culpability and involvement in the drug trade.
Lagman said, under the foregoing circumstances, “lack of evidence” merely deodorizes the wayward dismissal.
“The paucity of evidence is farfetched because the President and the police authorities must not withhold their arsenal of evidence for the formal indictment of Lim, Espinosa and their co-respondents,” Lagman said.
With Jester P. Manalastas, EMontano