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Who’s to blame?

By Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate

Why is Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II being blamed for the decision of the panel from the National Prosecution Service (NPS) clearing suspected drug lords Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Co? Is it because the NPS is under the office of the Secretary of Justice? Is it a case of command responsibility?

Before joining the individuals and groups who are calling for the resignation, if not termination, of Justice Secretary Aguirre, we should be clear on how the system works and what are the responsibilities of those involved in the investigation of the charges against the suspected drug lords.

As things turned out, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) – the investigation arm of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the one that filed the case before the Department of Justice (DoJ) – did not even submit the written confession of Kerwin Espinosa.

Such confession was crucial because the public outrage on the “dismissal” of the charges stemmed from the perceived irregularity in the decision of the NPS panel as it is known that Espinosa already admitted to be being involved in the drug trade.

Can the NPS make a decision based on an evidence that was not even submitted to it? The answer is “no.”

Why blame the NPS and why blame the Justice Secretary?

Is there anyone blaming the CIDG? What exactly is the scope of CIDG’s responsibility in securing conviction for the cases against the suspected drug lords?

The CIDG cannot assume that the affidavit of a witness will suffice in finding probable cause for the filing of the charges against the suspects. The CIDG should have presented all available evidences against the suspect, especially the signed confession of Kerwin Espinosa.

As it appears that this is a blunder on the part of CIDG, has there been a call for the investigation of the concerned CIDG officials and personnel? Is there a call for the resignation, if not termination, of PNP Chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa considering his command responsibility on the operations and performance of the CIDG?

It is interesting why Justice Secretary Aguirre is the subject of the public outrage when, system-wise, he has yet to review the decision of the NPS panel. It is a different story is Secretary Aguirre affirmed the decision of the panel. But since, he has not made such affirmation, why should he be blamed? Why should he be asked to resign?

It has been reported that the Senate will pursue its investigation (in-aid of legislation) on the matter. We hope that in the Senate inquiry, the persons who and agencies that are responsible for such potential miscarriage of justice will be pinpointed and made to answer for their sins of commission and omission.