PRESIDENT Duterte’s choice of Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra as the new justice secretary is surprising because of the contrast. Considering his background, he is a different man from the one he replaced, Vitaliano Aguirre II, both in character and legal stature. He could thus approach the implementation of the president’s marching orders differently from the way Aguirre did it.
How would Guevarra deal, for example, with the cases amd issues left hanging because of Aguirre’s exit? Let us leave for now the older ones, like the prosecution of Sen. Leila de Lima and focus on the recent ones, including the pursuit of the case against confessed drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. and Cebuano businessman Peter Lim. Also, there’s the tagging by Aguirre of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña as a drug protector based on the testimony of Reynaldo “Jumbo” Diaz.
In a way, Osmeña can heave a sigh of relief with this development. With Aguirre out, it is possible his accusation would go away with him because, unlike in the case of former mayor Michael Rama, who was accused of being a drug protector by the president himself, the former justice secretary was the only one making the allegation.
But it’s also possible Guevarra would proceed from where his predecessor left off. He could, for example, work to strengthen the case against Espinosa, Lim and the others and by the same token substantiate the claims Diaz made against Osmeña. If that happens, Osmeña can no longer use personal vendetta as defense because Guevarra has no beef against him unlike Aguirre, whom the mayor accused of doing corrupt acts.
Which brings us to probably the most important issue for Osmeña, one he is obviously obsessed with. Will Guevarra undo what Aguirre did, which was to force the inhibition of local prosecutors from handling the cases filed by Osmeña against Banco de Oro and SM Seaside City? Or should we say, would Guevarra be more yielding to Osmeña’s pressure tactics than Aguirre?
If there is any government official in Cebu interested in how Guevara would run the Department of Justice show, it surely is Osmeña.