NUPL calls for speedy court trial in all criminal cases
MANILA, Philippines — Trial courts should resolve swiftly all criminal cases like that of Juanito Jose Remulla III’s drugs charge, which took less than three months for a Las Piñas City court to issue a ruling, a group of human rights lawyers said on Sunday.
“The short and quick trial of Juanito Jose Remulla III is a rare example of a speedy trial and disposition of a case against an accused,” the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said in a statement, noting that it only took 79 days for the Las Piñas Regional Trial Court to arraign, conduct pretrial, receive evidence and draft and promulgate its judgment on the younger Remulla.
“For the nameless and disadvantaged, the right to speedy trial and disposition of cases is an illusion, such that if it becomes a reality for a few lucky ones—often the rich and the powerful—they find it hard to believe and can only sigh ‘sana all’ in the vain hope that the wheel of the justice will grind as fast for them as it did for Remulla.
Indeed, the swift, expedient and orderly administration of justice should be accorded to all,” the group said.
Activist groups also said earlier that the “basic rights” accorded to the younger Remulla should have also been applied to all other accused, especially to those who have been enduring long years in jail for similar drug charges.
Remulla, the eldest son of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla, was arrested by agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Oct. 11, 2022, at Talon Dos in Las Piñas after he received a package containing close to a kilo of “kush,” or high-grade marijuana, worth P1.3 million.
The PDEA reported the arrest two days later without any explanation for the delayed public disclosure that often quickly follows a high-profile drug bust.
But on Friday, the younger Remulla was acquitted of illegal drug possession by a Las Piñas court, which cited lapses in his arrest and in the chain of custody of the evidence against him.
He is facing a separate charge of drug importation and customs violation with the Pasay City prosecutor that has not been resolved.
According to NUPL, Remulla seems to have experienced none of the delays ordinarily brought about by clogged dockets, procedural twists and turns and other factors protracting litigation.
“This extraordinary feat in our justice system demonstrates that courts are capable of quickening their pace in resolving cases. In fact, they could declog their dockets if only they act as speedily as the Las Piñas court,” it said.
“The mistrust arises from the fact that thousands of accused who do not bear the Remulla name have been rotting in detention for years, while many others had been summarily killed for alleged drug offenses and were never given their day in court,” it stressed.
Asked to comment on NUPL’s statement regarding his son’s acquittal, the justice secretary told the Inquirer: “Is there any correct or acceptable answer to a question that has already made a conclusion?”
“He (Juanito Jose) had the right to be presumed innocent in the first place, I am just glad justice is served,” the elder Remulla said in an interview with reporters.
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