POSTSCRIPT / October 20, 2022 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Here’s one way out of Remulla dilemma

There will indeed be a conflict of interest, and much anguish in the family, if Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla clings to his office and leaves his son Juanito Jose Diaz Remulla III to face by himself non-bailable drug-related charges filed against him.

There need not be any conflict actually. Remulla has no obligation to continue in office and no compelling reason to sit in the Marcos cabinet. Instead, he has a blood duty to stay with his son despite the errors of his 38-year life and his being “emancipated”.

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla's son to face drug-related charges. Photo: Boying Remulla Facebook

There are dozens of other lawyers who can ably replace Remulla as justice secretary, but there is only one “Boying” Remulla who can help his son in trouble regardless of whether he is guilty as charged or innocent.

Once Remula resigns and is freed of the apparent conflict, he will be able to use his vast knowledge of the law, experience, wealth and even his influence to help his son get a fair hearing – or get the minimum penalty if he chooses to plead guilty.

If Remulla stays as Marcos’ justice secretary, even if he swears on a stack of Bibles, we would still find it hard to believe that he never attempted to sway, or sent somebody to try to influence, the course of the case through the legal labyrinth up to its final resolution.

The 61-year-old “Boying” Remulla might as well resign, as a true pater familias. Thus released from official and political shackles, he would then be in a better position to fully help his son in serious trouble.

(We are not demanding that Remulla resign. We’re just suggesting it so his son and he can face the world together.)

* * *

Remulla has told reporters covering his department that he will not resign over the potential conflict of interest posed by his son’s drugs case. He simply passed the ball to the team captain.

He said: “That is not my call. I am a very honorable person when it comes to this. It’s the President’s call and if I feel later on that I am not any more effective in this position then I will talk to the President whatever has to be done in the future.”

But President Marcos has apparently made up his mind, saying that demands for Remulla’s resignation have “no basis.”

Many senators and congressmen, as well as members of the legal cooperation cluster of the government’s anti-communist task force, have chorused that the calls for Remulla to resign are part of a vilification campaign by communists.

Huh? How did the communists supposedly get into the picture? But then the Red Tag has been a convenient device used lately for smearing critics and responding to a variety of complaints against government officials.

* * *

The news had it that Remulla’s son has been charged with possession of illegal drugs before the regional trial court of Las Piñas.

Why Las Piñas? While the package from the United States containing the alleged contraband came through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City, Remulla was arrested Oct. 11 by a narcotics team in his house in Las Piñas where the package was delivered.

Prosecution Attorney Jennah Marie dela Cruz told reporters (in Taglish) on Friday: “We filed for violation of Section 11 of RA 9165 that is possession of illegal drugs because based on evidence that was evaluated, this was the most appropriate case that may be filed.”

Part of the charge sheet reads:

“xxx on or about 11th day of October 2022, in the City of Las Piñas, Philippines, within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, without being authorized by law, did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and knowingly have in his possession, custody, and control, one brown paper parcel with bubble wrap containing two tape-sealed transparent plastic bag, each containing four three seven nine three (437.93) grams; and four five five point nine eight (455.98) grams, both with a total weight of eight nine three point nine one (893.91) grams of Cannabis (Marijuana), a dangerous drug.”

PDEA Director Derrick Carreon said later in a “The Source” TV interview that the 893.91 grams of high-grade marijuana had an estimated street value of ₱1.25 million.

Dela Cruz said Remulla was initially facing complaints for the importation of drugs, but these have since been referred for preliminary investigation in Pasay City, which she said has jurisdiction over the elements of the offense.

Is a debate over the proper venue for filing the case(s) coming? A preliminary investigation allows the younger Remulla to file a counter-affidavit for his defense, which can elevate the issues for review by the justice department headed by his father who refuses to touch the case.

On July 13, Remulla issued Department Circular 27 stating that the Office of the Justice Secretary shall review appeals from resolutions of the Prosecutor General in cases subject to a preliminary investigation.

The circular also said that “the Secretary of Justice reserves the right to evaluate, in the interest of justice, to afford fair play and prevent the miscarriage of justice, motu proprio or upon written and signed complaint, any resolution of the Prosecutor General, Regional State Prosecutors and Provincial/City Prosecutors.”

But Remulla modified that on Tuesday, saying that “if it’s (an) adverse case against my son, it will not be appealed here. It will go straight to the courts for trial.” He said his son “will have to face his predicament as a fully emancipated child.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 20, 2022)

* * *

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