Aguirre rejects quit call over junking of drug raps vs. Lim, Espinosa

MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Thursday shrugged off the call of a lawmaker for his resignation over the dismissal of the drug complaint filed against businessman Peter Lim, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, and 20 others.

“For as long as I enjoy the trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte, I will remain,” Aguirre said in a statement.

Aguirre earlier said that he would only quit if the President would ask him to do so, or if he felt he has lost his trust in any way.

On Wednesday, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro urged Aguirre to resign after the DOJ panel resolution cleared Lim, Espinosa and several other drug peddlers of drug trafficking charges.

In Department Order (DO) No. 151 issued Wednesday, Aguirre designated Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Assistant State Prosecutor Ana Noreen Devanadera and Prosecuting Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan while Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon was designated as the Acting Prosecutor General would review the dismissal of the criminal complaint filed by the Philippine National Police.

Aguirre said that for the motion for reconsideration to be strong, the complainant must supplement it with stronger pieces of evidence to indict the respondents over their involvement in illegal drug trade like in the case of Espinosa who presented himself at the Senate and confessed that he is a drug lord.

“I was suggesting to the complainant to read the resolution so that they can make their case strong. Check what the comment of the National Prosecution Service (NPS) (as to) why the case was dismissed, if there is inconsistency and most of all they should get the copy of Kerwin’s admission in Senate, get the certified true copy of the transcript,” Aguirre said.

“If there is a clear admission on the part of Kerwin, this is going to be a strong case,” he added.

Once the CIDG is able to present solid evidence against the accused, the DOJ will expedite the case, Aguirre added.

Aguirre said “It’s unfortunate but I have nothing to do with the issuance of the resolution by the NPS. We could only intervene if the case is brought to us in Petition for Review or on Automatic Review.”

The DOJ chief has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to investigate the prosecutors who dismissed the drug case against Lim, Espinosa and several others.