Bongbong Marcos rejects calls for Remulla to resign
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Friday rejected calls for the resignation of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla following his son’s arrest on charges of drug possession early this week, saying the demand was baseless.
“You call for somebody to resign if he’s not doing his job or that they have misbehaved in that job,” the President told reporters on the sidelines of a Department of Science and Technology event in Pasay City.
Mr. Marcos said Remulla took the “very proper position” of recusing himself from any involvement in his son’s case.
The justice secretary said in a handwritten statement on Thursday that he would “not intervene in nor influence” any case filed against his 38-year-old son.
Remulla himself signaled that he would not voluntarily step down and would continue holding his post.
“I serve at the pleasure of the President and I think that’s the most important principle,” he told SMNI News Channel on Friday in his first media interview since his son’s arrest.
“I see this as a test to our family, to myself and in many ways a test to our country on how we handle a sensitive matter like this,” he said. “I’m the head of the justice department and I will let justice take its course.”Remulla’s son, Juanito Jose Diaz Remulla III, was arrested on Tuesday for alleged possession of over P1 million worth of kush, or high-grade marijuana.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported the arrest only two days later without any explanation for the delayed public disclosure that often quickly follows a high-profile drug bust.
The PDEA said the arrest was part of a “controlled delivery” operation in which an illegal drug shipment is monitored under supervision by an antinarcotics officer until the owner or the consignee takes possession of it.The justice secretary was then in Geneva, Switzerland, where he defended the bloody drug war of former President Rodrigo Duterte before members of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
After the arrest was disclosed on Thursday, calls for Remulla’s resignation immediately came out on social media from people demanding “delicadeza,” or propriety, on the part of the justice secretary, who exercises power and influence over the government prosecutors who will eventually handle his son’s case.
“It’s unacceptable to just pen a letter when, as the Justice Secretary, your son commits what has been painted as the most criminal act in the Philippines for the last six (and counting) years. Boying Remulla should resign,” sociologist Athena Charanne Presto said on Twitter.
Mr. Marcos said the justice secretary was “aware that he must allow the processes of the judiciary to work properly and that no one in the Executive should interfere.”
The justice secretary also was supported by several lawmakers, including Sen. JV Ejercito.
Remulla served as assistant secretary at the Office of the President under then President Joseph Estrada, Ejercito’s father, and later as chief of staff of Sen. Loi Estrada, the former president’s wife.
“Knowing Remulla for three decades, I know he will not tolerate this even if it’s his son who is involved,” Ejercito told the Inquirer.
According to Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, the demand for Remulla’s resignation was “uncalled for, unjust and without basis.”
Public officials, he said, should “be judged on their own merits, on their work performance and not on what other people (even if related to them) do.”
Sen. Imee Marcos said Remulla’s statement on the incident was “self-evident.”
“I need not say anything more,” she said.
House dangerous drugs committee chair Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said there was no need for Congress to investigate the arrest of Remulla’s son.
“I pray for Secretary Remulla and his family, in the same manner that I do offer prayers as well to those other families who are in this predicament,” Barbers said.
The justice secretary’s own political party, the National Unity Party (NUP), of which he is the vice chair, commended Remulla for “promptly assuring authorities” that he won’t intervene for his son.
In a statement, the NUP said Remulla’s “professionalism and love of country is unparalleled.”
Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman also said that as long as Remulla was not interfering in the investigation and prosecution of his son, there was no reason for him to step down.
“However, the Remulla family must explain why it took almost two days for them to reveal or disclose the capture and detention of the Remulla scion for the alleged importation of P1.3 million worth of kush or hybrid marijuana,” Lagman said.
House Deputy Minority Leader Rep. France Castro, said there seemed to be a “certain amount of double standard” in the handling of the drug charge against Remulla’s son compared to the cases filed against ex-Sen. Leila de Lima, who has been detained since February 2017 also on drug charges.
“The double standard becomes more glaring if we compare it with the thousands killed in the bogus drug war of the past administration,” Castro said.
Like Lagman, she also asked why the arrest of Remulla’s son was made public only two days later.
Rumors that the son of a high-ranking official first circulated on social media on Wednesday.
Remulla said in his interview with SMNI that he learned about his son’s arrest in the early hours of Tuesday in Geneva, or around noon in Manila.
“I woke up before dawn on Tuesday and I was told something happened in the Philippines,” he said.
“I only told one thing to my wife, to get a lawyer since that’s the only way to clear things. That’s the only thing I said,” Remulla said. “I said, get him a lawyer so he can defend himself. That’s a basic right—the right to be presumed innocent, [the right to a] lawyer.” —WITH REPORTS FROM MARLON RAMOS AND JULIE M. AURELIO INQ
READ: Some senators back Remulla despite quit calls over son’s link to kush import
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