SENATORS condemned the exoneration by the Department of Justice of several high-profile drug suspects.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said the decision of the DoJ not to prosecute alleged drug lords Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa, and other several suspected high profile drug traffickers seriously harmed the credibility of the government war on drugs.
Recto said no less than the Chief Executive himself identified Peter Lim as one of the big fish and Espinosa admitted his involvement in the drug trade during a hearing in the Senate.
For Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III the decision of the DoJ should be reviewed.
“Perhaps Congress should look into the dismissals and find out what to do to strengthen the laws or find out if there was a disregard of laws in prosecution. Hindi pwede yan,” Sotto said insisting that the DoJ decision is unacceptable.
Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito Estrada said the clearing of alleged big time drug lords sends mixed signals to the public considering the fact that the President has been very vocal against illegal drugs.
“This is illogical actually because the decision is sending a mixed signal to the public that while President Duterte’s government is pushing to eradicate drugs regardless of one’s stature in life, the DoJ is sending a different signal,” Ejercito said.
Ejercito said he is hopeful that the government will continue to gather more concrete and competent evidence proving that the cleared suspects are indeed involved in illegal drug activities.
Senator Panfilo Lacson urged Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II to review the decision of the panel of prosecutors who recently dismissed the cases of these alleged drug lords for lack of probable cause.
“While the panel of prosecution has dismissed the case for lack of probable cause, it is still subject to a review by the Secretary of Justice. Hence, the same may still be reversed. Anyway, based on the evidence unearthed and presented during the Senate hearings, at least in the case of Kerwin Espinosa, I would like to think that probable cause would have been clearly established,” Lacson said.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian admitted he was very surprised why even confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa’s case was dismissed considering that he admitted his alleged connection and established his links to big-time drug lords in Visayas region.
“I was very surprised to find out that even self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa was exonerated. This runs counter to the administration’s war on the drug lords. Government needs to work together to jail these drug lords,” Gatchalian said.
He added that “instead of pointing fingers and dwelling on technicalities, cooperation among agencies is the best method to clean up the street of illegal drugs. This is a big setback in achieving a drug-free society in our country.”
Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes laughed off the decision of the DoJ describing the war against drugs of the present administration as a fake drug war and moro moro.
Senator Paolo Benigno (Bam) Aquino IV said this recent decision of the DoJ is a “grave injustice” to over 20,000 personalities killed in the government’s brutal drug war.
Aquino said the release of these high-profile suspects has rendered the administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign futile.
Senator Grace Poe said the decision of the DoJ is very disturbing as it puts into question the credibility of the DoJ .
Poe lamented that lives were killed in the war on drugs and described the exoneration of Peter Lim et al as an insult to the Filipino people and to the police officers who risked their lives and died during in the drug war.