Dela Rosa to DOJ panel: 'Konsensiya naman'

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa on Friday, March 16, slammed the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors who recommended the dismissal of drug and conspiracy charges against Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa, and their alleged accomplices.

In a news briefing in Camp Crame, Dela Rosa said since the PNP and the DOJ panel belongs to the same "team," the prosecutors should have alerted PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) chief Director Roel Obusan that there was weak evidence against the alleged drug lords so that the police could have strengthened the cases.

"Dapat konsensiya naman. Alam ninyo na ito ay malaking drug lord. In your appreciation, mahina ang ebidensiya baka puwede naman kahit itext lang si Obusan na ididismiss namin itong kaso 'nyo," the top cop said in a press briefing on Friday, March 16.

(Have a conscience. You know that this is a big drug lord. In your appreciation, the evidence is weak, maybe it was possible to even just text Obusan that you were going to dismiss the case.)

He was addressing the DOJ panel comprised of Michael Humarang and Aristotle Reyes, who was promoted to Lucena City Regional Trial Court judge while they were investigating the drugs and conspiracy charges against Lim, Espinosa, and their alleged accomplices.

Context: The CIDG filed the charges against the alleged big-time drug personalities. The charges were dismissed on December 20, 2017, but the notice of dismissal only reached Camp Crame on February 7, 2018. The PNP filed a motion for reconsideration on February 19.

Dela Rosa said he would have preferred that the DOJ give the CIDG a heads up before dismissing their case outright.

"E kung sa tingin nila mahina, bakit hindi nila kami sinabihan? Hindi ba magsabi, team tayo? Kahit na separate tayo in the pillar of the criminal justice system, we are still under the Chief Executive sa executive branch of government. Sabihan 'nyo kami, 'Puwede ba dagdagan 'nyo ito dahil mahina ito,' hindi ba?" he said.

(If in their determination, the evidence is weak, why didn't they tell us? You didn't advise us, when we're a team? Even though we are separate in the pillar of the criminal justice system, we are still under the Chief Executive of the executive branch of the government. Tell us, "Can you augment this because this is weak," right?)

The PNP chief said that the DOJ panel could have asked for more evidence from them before dismissing the case entirely. Obusan shared the same sentiment in his Wednesday press briefing on the case, calling the recommendation a "sweeping" decision.

Former state prosecutor Reyes said on Thursday that the panel only acted on the evidence submitted to it, and that it's outside the mandate of a prosecutor to hunt for evidence.

What did the PNP complaint lack? The PNP, according to the DOJ panel, relied too much on the testimony of star witness Marcelo Adorco, an alleged aide of Espinosa.

The PNP said his "direct involvement" in Lim and Espinosa's operations made him a credible witness, but the DOJ panel found glaring inconsistencies in his separate affidavits such as the alleged dates Adorco met with Lim and Espinosa, and the amounts of shabu they traded.

What happens next? The DOJ is investigating the prosecutors involved in the case, after their decision sparked public outrage.

Despite the decision in December, media assigned to the judiciary only obtained a copy of the panel's verdict on March 12.

After President Rodrigo Duterte expressed anger over the DOJ panel's findings, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II  created a separate panel to decide on the PNP's appeal, and another panel to investigate the decision of the DOJ panel. – Rappler.com

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

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