By Dane Angelo M. Enerio
JUSTICE SECRETARY Menardo I. Guevarra on Thursday expressed confidence the Department of Justice (DoJ) can defend the reopened drug investigation against businessman and suspected drug lord Peter Lim.
Mr. Lim, through his lawyers, sought from the Supreme Court (SC) a temporary restraining order (TRO) against his investigation, citing grave abuse of discretion was committed by the DoJ when it reopened a case that was already dismissed Dec. 20 last year for lack of evidence.
“The DoJ welcomes the filing of the petition and we are ready to defend our actions,” Mr. Guevarra told reporters. “I trust in the good sense of the SC.”
According to Mr. Lim’s 52-page motion for certiorari, “the DoJ gravely abused its discretion in vacating the first Panel of Prosecutors’s Resolution based merely on perceived ‘nationwide uproar’ and ‘public outrage’ over the dismissal of the case against petitioner.”
Following the media release of the decision on March 12, then justice secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre II assigned a new panel of state prosecutors before his resignation last April.
That month, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police submitted additional evidence on Mr. Lim’s alleged 2015 meeting in Thailand with confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
In his petition, Mr. Lim claimed, “the DoJ also acted with grave abuse of discretion in directing parties’s presentation of ‘additional evidence’ despite the first Panel of Prosecutors’s ruling that the CIDG’s evidence is insufficient to support a finding of probably cause.”
“In ‘extending’ the preliminary investigation in the case below — when there is already a resolution dismissing the case — so that the CIDG can present ‘additional evidence,’ the DoJ dangerously, if not want only, acted as an instrument of injustice and oppression,” the petition read further.
It added: “The DoJ had effectively authorized the CIDG to go on a fishing expedition and defeat the very purpose of a preliminary investigation, i.e., to secure the innocent against hasty, malicious, and oppressive prosecution, and to protect him from an open and public accusation of a crime, from the trouble, expense, and anxiety of a public trial.”
On April 27, Mr. Guevarra upheld his predecessor’s decision and dismissed Mr. Lim’s petition for the DoJ to dismiss the reopened drug charges against him and his co-accused, who include Espinosa and convicted drug lord Peter Co, among others.
They were charged with violation of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002.
On May 30, Mr. Guevarra granted Mr. Lim’s request to have a separate preliminary investigation from his co-accused.