DAANBANTAYAN, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot hopes that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other agencies will investigate him soon so he can be cleared of allegations he was involved in illegal drugs.
The retired police general told reporters he hopes to be included with the likes of Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. and Peter Lim, whose cases a DOJ panel has recommended to dismiss for lack of evidence.
President Rodrigo Duterte, however, rejected the dismissal of complaints 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 failing to hold Lim and Espinosa liable for their supposed links to the illegal drug trade.
The President said that Espinosa’s admission during a Senate inquiry should serve as concrete evidence of his drug links.
“There was already an admission in Congress. Why not admit it as evidence against him (Espinosa)?” said Duterte, himself a former prosecutor. Within his first month in office, the President had linked Espinosa, his late father Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., and Lim, among others, to the illegal drug trade.
Aguirre created a new panel of prosecutors who will look into the complaint that Espinosa, Lim, and several others conspired in the trafficking of illegal drugs. Lim has repeatedly denied the allegation and pointed to the lack of evidence to corroborate ex-bodyguard Marcelo Adorco’s testimony.
The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group also asked the DOJ to reverse the resolution to dismiss, which was dated Dec. 20, 2017 but made public only last Monday, March 12.
In a separate interview, Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said he believes that the police failed to provide solid evidence to prosecute Espinosa and Lim.
Davide told reporters that while many had expected that Espinosa and Lim would be charged, he was surprised that the Department of Justice recommended to dismiss the cases. While Lim’s alleged links to illegal drugs have yet to be proven, Espinosa openly admitted that he was a drug lord.
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña welcomed President Duterte’s response to the developments in the case.
“I’m really happy to hear that. Aguirre, to me, is very corrupt, so when I said that he is very forgiving, only to rich and influential people. I’m glad that the President is making that move because I’m really disappointed (by that DOJ resolution),” Osmeña said.
Before Duterte’s pronouncement, Osmeña said the justice department’s resolution would be enough for Duterte to dismiss Aguirre and that the justice secretary was “doing a disservice to the administration.”
Also in Cebu, the director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 urged employees of alleged drug lords to come out and divulge information about their illegal activities.
Supt. Royina Garma, CIDG 7 director, said they need the help of the community and that they will not stop gathering evidence.
“We will find other crimes they possibly committed...Maybe they have firearms that are not licensed, maybe they are involved in other criminal activities, like smuggling.” (With RTF & SunStar Philippines)