PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has rejected the Department of Justice's (DOJ) controversial dismissal of complaints filed against suspected big-time drug personalities, Peter Lim and Kerwin Espinosa, and said he will invoke his "power of supervision and control" over the Justice department to order a review.
During a command conference with police and military officials, the President reportedly chastised Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II for failure to hold Lim and Espinosa liable for their supposed links to the illegal drug trade in the country.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., in a series of posts on his Twitter account on Tuesday, March 13, said Duterte intends to wield his power of supervision over the DOJ and review the DOJ's junking of the drug charges against Lim and Espinosa. "Pag nakawala yan si Lim at Espinosa, sya (Aquirre) ang ipapalit ko. (If Lim and Espinosa get away with the charges, I will let Aquirre take their place," Duterte said, as quoted by Roque. "I will invoke my power of supervision and control (over the DOJ) and will review dismissal of cases against Lim and Espinosa."
During his first months in office, Duterte named Lim and Espinosa as alleged drug lords in the Visayas.
Lim, a Cebu businessman, met with Duterte in July 2016 to clear his name.
Espinosa, on the other hand, admitted in a Senate inquiry held in November 2016 that he was earning multi-million pesos from illicit drug operations.
In a resolution made public by the DOJ on Monday, March 12, a panel of prosecutors recommened to drop the drug-related complaint against Lim, Espinosa, and other alleged drug personalities for lack of evidence.
The President said Espinosa's admission during a Senate probe should serve as a concrete evidence on his supposed drug links.
"There was already an admission in Congress. Why not admit it as evidence against him (Espinosa)?" Duterte added.
Following the President's reaction, Roque said Aguirre was prompted to order the creation of a new panel of prosecutors to review the dismissal.
Roque said the Philippine National Police is also expected to ask the DOJ to reconsider the dismissal of drug-related complaints against the alleged drug lords.
Prior to Duterte's meeting with the police and military, Roque said the DOJ panel's decision to dismiss cases against Lim and Espinosa is "far from being final." (SunStar Philippines)