PACC: Suspend DOJ prosecutors who dismissed case vs Lim, Espinosa
The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) on Tuesday has recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte the preventive suspension of Department of Justice (DOJ) investigating prosecutors who have dismissed the illegal drugs case filed against Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim.
PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica said the anti-graft and corruption body proposed the preventive suspension of Assistant State Prosecutor Michael John M. Humarang; Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Rassendell Rex F. Gingoyon, who endorsed the complaint’s approval; and former Acting Prosecutor General Jorge G. Catalan, who approved the complaint.
The body also recommended a lifestyle check against now-Lucena Regional Trial Court Judge Aristotle Reyes as he could no longer be suspended by President Duterte because he was already part of the Judiciary.
The prosecutors, Belgica said, have violated Section 3(e) of Republic Act. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
Belgica questioned the controversial dismissal of the charges against Lim and Espinosa, a self-confessed drug dealer.
“Itong dismissal ng DOJ walang pinagkaiba sa pato na inilaban sa sabong, namatay na sa laban panalo pa din. This is one big farce intended to discredit the anti-drug campaign of [President Duterte],” Belgica said in a press conference in Manila.
(The dismissal of the DOJ is no different from a duck that was in a cockfight. The duck is already dead but is still declared the winner.)
“This is very disturbing, the prosecuting panel must and should have exerted all efforts to serve justice to the people and to our country,” he added.
Belgica added that prosecutors should have had conducted a clarificatory hearing first before dismissing the complaint right away.
The DOJ panel of prosecutors in December dismissed the complaint against Lim and Espinosa because of weak evidence filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG).
Humarang and Reyes have defended their decision, noting that it was not their job to gather evidence for the police.
Lifestyle check, cause order
Belgica said that the body, which was created by President Duterte last year, would also conduct lifestyle check to other officials who handled the case and assured there would be “no sacred cow” in the administration’s fight against corruption.
The PACC likewise, asked President Duterte to issue a show cause order against the CIDG investigators and explain why they should not be suspended from their positions.
PNP chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa had admitted there were lapses in the part of the CIDG but noted that the prosecutors should have had told the police that their case would not stand in court. /muf
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