No bail for Remulla son
Assuring the public of its independence, the Las Piñas City prosecutor’s office indicted the son of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla for illegal possession of almost a kilogram of “kush,” or high-grade marijuana, on Friday and recommended no bail for his temporary liberty.
But the prosecutor’s office referred the other complaint of illegal drug importation against Juanito Jose Diaz Remulla III to its counterpart in Pasay City for preliminary investigation as the latter exercises jurisdiction over that case, Las Piñas Prosecution Attorney Jennah Marie dela Cruz told reporters in a phone interview.
The state lawyer allayed fears that her office was under pressure to give any special treatment for the 38-year-old son of the Department of Justice (DOJ) chief, whose office wields enormous influence on prosecutors.
Life term, P10 million fine
“I can assure you there was no participation or intervention of any department, especially the secretary of justice. Since yesterday (Thursday) we have been blocking people from coming inside our office,” Dela Cruz said.
She said her office redirected the drug importation complaint to the Pasay prosecutor because “almost all elements of the offense took place” in that city.
In any case, both possession of at least 500 grams of marijuana and importation of illegal drugs carry the highest penalty under the Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which is life imprisonment after the death penalty was abolished in 2006.
Both offenses are also punishable with a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million.
The resolution finding probable cause to charge the younger Remulla with drug possession “is a joint effort of our chief, my reviewing officer and myself being the prosecutor,” Dela Cruz said.
Based on the case information, Juanito was charged with “willfully, unlawfully and knowingly” having in his possession a brown paper parcel containing two tape-sealed transparent plastic bags, one containing 437.93 grams and the other 455.98 grams of marijuana.
He was arrested at a house inside BF Resort Village in Barangay Talon Dos on Tuesday morning during a “controlled delivery” operation by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group.
It was Juanito, according to a PDEA report, who received the marked parcel with two brown paper pouches containing kush packed in bubble wrap. The contraband has an estimated street value of P1.25 million.
Investigation showed that the parcel was shipped by a certain Benjamin Huffman of 1524 Hornblend Street in San Diego, California in the United States to the Philippines via courier.
Bureau of Customs (BOC) spokesperson Arnold dela Torre Jr. said in a radio interview that the parcel arrived at the Central Mail Exchange Center of the Philippine Postal Corp. on Sept. 27.
After an X-ray inspection triggered suspicion that the shipment contained illegal drugs, customs officials coordinated with PDEA, which hatched its operation 14 days later, on Oct. 11, leading to Juanito’s arrest.
Didn’t disclose relationship
But it wasn’t until almost three days later, on Thursday night, that PDEA made public its report on the incident.
According to PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon, Juanito had not identified himself as Remulla’s son when he presented his driver’s license to the operatives for identification. Neither did the antidrug agents know initially of the suspect’s relationship to the DOJ chief, the PDEA official said.
Without elaborating, Carreon flatly denied allegations that the operation had been deliberately concealed from the media.
In most other cases, PDEA issues reports on its “accomplishments” within a day of the operation taking place.
On Friday, PDEA released mug shots of Juanito with his face blurred.
Carreon insisted Juanito wasn’t receiving any special favors.
He said PDEA was taking Remulla’s word that he would not in any way interfere with the case.
“The fact that the honorable secretary of justice has clearly stated that they will not interfere in any way, I guess that would allow the prosecutors a free hand in handling this case and we have faith in the justice system that it will work based on the rule of law,” Carreon said.
In a handwritten statement released by the DOJ on Thursday, Remulla said he would “not intervene in nor influence” any case filed against his son, who “will have to face his predicament as a fully emancipated child.”
0The justice secretary also thanked PDEA “for doing their job, without fear or favor.”Carreon said illegal drug importation, one of the charges Juanito was facing, was a “serious offense” that usually merited little chance of getting provisional freedom.
“Because importation [of drugs] is a serious offense, normally the prosecutors do not recommend [the accused to be able to post] bail,” he said.
But the final decision on bail is still “in the hands of the court,” Carreon said. INQ