THE resolution was dated Dec. 20, 2017 but that a considerable time lapsed before it became public could be interpreted as the Department of Justice (DOJ) being not too agog about the matter. Instead of bringing the trading of illegal drugs complaint filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) against Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Go Lim, Peter Co and several others to the courts, the DOJ instead cleared them for lack of evidence.
The case was apparently an attempt to correct a process wherein the cart was put before the horse. Lists of suspected big-time drug lords were made public before proof could be gathered against them and cases filed. This was obvious in the case of Lim, a Cebuano businessman identified as a big-time drug trader. Only after his name was made public did the CIDG look for evidence and file a case against him.
The CIDG complaint identified Lim and Bilibid prisoner Peter Co as suppliers of illegal drugs to Kerwin Espinosa, the self-confessed drug lord in Eastern and Central Visayas. The accusation of being behind the illegal drugs trade in two regions was so encompassing it needed tons of evidence. Instead, the complaint was made to rise or fall on the “uncorroborated statements” of an “evidently self-serving witness.”
Reaction in social media was swift, especially from those who considered the resolution as proof that the Duterte administration is coddling major personalities in the illegal drugs trade. While the insinuations are unfair to the panel of prosecutors who made the recommendation, the critics could not also be blamed because of previous instances wherein the DOJ was seen as filing supposedly trumped-up charges against the president’s critics.
On this, the resolution quoted a line from Allado and Mendoza vs. Hon. Diokno that we hope the DOJ, especially Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, would take to heart:
“Judges, prosecutors and law enforcers are reminded that in the performance of their duties they should act with circumspection lest their thoughtless ways, methods and practices cause a disservice to their office and maim their countrymen they are sworn to serve and protect.”
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on March 13, 2018.
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