Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla has ordered prosecutors of the National Prosecution Service to take an active role in the investigation of certain crimes, particularly during the case build-up.
In a 5-page department circular, the DOJ said prosecutors must ensure the existence of a prima facie case and a reasonable certainty of conviction based on available documents, witnesses, and evidence.
The DOJ said this is applicable to heinous crimes such as treason, piracy and qualified piracy, qualified bribery, parricide, murder, infanticide, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, robbery, destructive arson, rape, plunder, and carnapping, among others.
All violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act, the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012, and capital offenses punishable by reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment are also covered.
“All heads of prosecution offices shall ensure that all prosecutors… be available to assist, coordinate, and cooperate with, and provide sufficient legal guidance to, law enforcement agencies in all planned operations,” the circular read.
“Prosecutors shall be available at any hour of the day or night, even remotely via available telecommunications technology, for purposes of consultation, cooperation, and coordination on matters involving proper collection and preservation of evidence,” it added.
According to the DOJ, criminal complaints covered by the circular will be evaluated within 10 days from receipt to determine if they contain all the necessary evidence.
Should they be found to contain the necessary evidence, the prosecutor must certify that there is sufficient ground to conduct a preliminary investigation.
A certificate on the existence of a prima facie case and of reasonable certainty of conviction will then be issued in all cases for preliminary investigation.
Meanwhile, if there is insufficient evidence, the complaint will be referred back to the private complainant or the referring law enforcement agency along with a report on the result of the evaluation, advice regarding the lack of evidence, and a directive to secure and submit the evidence.
For inquest cases, assisting prosecutors must certify that there is sufficient ground to conduct inquest proceedings. If there is insufficient evidence, the prosecutor must recommend the conduct of a regular case build-up or a preliminary investigation. —VAL, GMA Integrated News