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Aguirre orders ‘wide open’ review of drug complaint vs. Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday asked parties to use the review process in the dismissal of drug charges against Kerwin Espinosa and businessman Peter Lim to submit all necessary evidence to support their claims.

At a press briefing in Malacañang, Aguirre said he issued a department order on Monday "vacating the dismissal of the case and ordered that the cases be wide open for both parties" following the public uproar caused by the development.

"The two parties, their evidence, i-submit nila iyang mga hindi nila na-submit katulad niyang admission sa Senate hearing [ni Espinosa na siya ay drug distributor]. I-submit nila iyong sinasabi natin dito na mga travel records nila. Travel records of Peter Lim, kasi may sinasabi si [witness Marcelo] Adorco doon, na mag-meet sila sa Bangkok [regarding delivery of shabu to Espinosa]," he said.

Aguirre has since formed a panel of prosecutors to review the resolution that said Espinosa and Lim cannot be indicted in court for the charge of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading due to lack of evidence presented by the Philippine National Police, infuriating Duterte last week. 

A copy of Aguirre's order confirms he has also directed the remanding of the case to the new panel of prosecutors in order to continue the preliminary investigation or clarificatory hearing in relation with the case.

The motion for reconsideration filed by the police is now considered "moot," according to the order.

"The order was issued in the exercise of my power under automatic review," he said in a text message to reporters.

The Justice chief, who repeatedly bucked calls for him to quit, also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe the prosecutors that cleared Espinosa, Lim and several others of the drug charges.

The prosecutors, in defending the resolution, said it was not their duty to gather evidence for the complainant.

Asked if the prosecutors enjoy the presumption of regularity in dismissing the complaint, Aguirre replied in the affirmative.

"Kaya nga sabi ko dito ay naunawaan ko iyong aking mga prosecutors. Kaya noong sabihin nila sa akin na hindi maganda ang ginawa ko, nauunawaan ko talaga sila sapagka’t there is must be always a presumption of regularity in the performance of duty sa government officials," the Cabinet official said.

Aguirre, however, said the criminal probe against the prosecutors will continue. — with Nicole-Anne C. Lagrimas/RSJ, GMA News