Aguirre orders probe vs prosecutors who cleared Lim, Espinosa

MANILA, Philippines –  Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a case buildup against his panel of prosecutors who dismissed drug trade and conspiracy charges against Peter Lim and Kerwin Espinosa, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on Wednesday, March 14.

Aguirre issued the order amid public outcry over the recommendation, which DOJ prosecutors made in December 2017 but was only known to the public earlier this week, after media learned and reported about it.

Department Order No. 152 also authorizes the NBI to “file appropriate charges if evidence warrants” against the prosecution panel composed of Assistant State Prosecutors Michael John Humarang and Aristotle Reyes. 

Humarang and Reyes’ resolutions were approved by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Rassendell Rex Gingoyon and Acting Prosecutor General Jorge Catalan.

Aguirre also directs the NBI to invesigate, conduct case buildup and even file cases if necessary against his prosecutors who dismissed the charges against Lim and Espinosa — Lian Buan (@lianbuan) March 14, 2018

Aguirre also created a different prosecution panel that will resolve the motion for reconsideration filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP). The justice secretary replaced Catalan and assigned Richard Fadullon as the acting prosecutor general in that case.

The new panel is composed of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Assistant State Prosecutor Ana Noreen Devanadera, and Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who had tagged Lim and Espinosa as key players in the country's illicit drug trade, apparently only learned about the DOJ panel's 3-month-old recommendation this week. He said on Tuesday, March 12, that himself would review the decision.

Espinosa was outed by his own father as a drug lord, an accusation he denies while also admitting his links to illegal drugs during a Senate probe into the illegal drug trade in the New Bilibid Prison in 2016.

Lim, is a prominent businessman in Cebu who Duterte had accused and threatened publicly because of his alleged drug links. –,

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.