By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte wants a “full review” of the dismissal of the drug case against suspected big-time drug personalities after finding the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision “unacceptable,” a Palace official said Wednesday.
“The President was clearly upset, dismayed by the decision of the DOJ and he wants a full review,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said during a media interview in Manila.
The President earlier declared he would invoke his power of supervision and control over the DOJ and review the dropping of charges against alleged drug lords Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim, and others.
Duterte, in a meeting with some Cabinet members and security officials in Malacañang last Tuesday, was disappointed with prosecutors’ recommendation that the case supposedly lacked evidence. He reportedly asked why Espinosa’s admission to drug trade involvement during a congressional inquiry was not admitted as evidence.
“I will invoke my power of supervision and control and will review the dismissal,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque quoted the President as saying.
The President also supposedly told Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II that he would take the place of Espinosa and Lim if they go scot free. Roque said Aguirre has formed a new investigation panel to review the case.
Andanar said the President was “not happy” with the DOJ decision junking the complaint against Espinosa and others.
“The President already ordered ordered Secretary Aguirre to review the case because the DOJ decision was unacceptable,” Andanar said.
Asked if the President was serious about his threat to Aguirre, Andanar said: “It’s an expression of dissatisfaction with the decision so there must be a review.”
Andanar said the President didn’t give any timetable on how soon the review must be completed.
Malacañang earlier vowed not to let the big fish get away amid a planned review of the drug case against Espinosa, Lima and other suspects. Roque said the police could refile the case and introduce additional evidence to ensure a conviction in court.