The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said it will “carefully study the reasons behind the exoneration” of Juanito Jose Remulla III, son of Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla after the former walked free Friday (January 5) following his acquittal by a Las Piñas court.
The full PDEA statement reads, “With utmost respect to the Court’s decision, PDEA will carefully study the reasons behind the exoneration, and exercise due diligence in the conduct of similar operations in the future. The Court has seen both sides of the case and is in the best position to rule over the merits.”
Las Piñas Regional Trial Court Branch 197 argued that the prosecution had failed to provide substantial evidence establishing that the younger Remulla was in fact aware he was receiving a parcel containing illegal drugs, in particular “kush” or high-grade marijuana with an estimated value of P1.3 million.
Juanito was apprehended at his home in October 2022 via a “controlled delivery operation” by authorities who knew he was actually receiving a delivery containing the contraband.
The accused however is still facing separate raps for drug importation and supposed violation of customs law at the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office. This was ruled by his camp as yet a criminal case.
He earlier had pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The court also had given weight to the testimonies of PDEA agents Eduardo Bongao Jr. and Clint Mek-eng that the younger Remulla said he was not expecting any delivery when the parcel was delivered to his residence.
He also denied knowing its shipper Benjamin Huffman but will still take the parcel though if it was named after him.
Dad says ‘No comment’
Meanwhile, the justice secretary has given a cold reply to the supposed good news about his son’s speedy trial and acquittal.
He has earlier pronounced that he “will not intervene nor influence” his son’s case and since being both a father and a secretary of justice are roles he takes seriously, he said he knows that his 38-year-old son “will have to face his predicament as a fully emancipated child.”
“I have to abide by the oath of office when I took this position,” he also said.
‘Day of celebration, thanksgiving’
Pearlito Campanilla, one of the lawyers of the Remulla family said that it is indeed good news for their camp and that they were “pleased” when the court ruling was handed to them. He however said that his client is fully aware that clearing his name would take time.
“He is not unaware that he will have to struggle to win back his reputation and good name, but that is for tomorrow. Today is a day of celebration and thanksgiving for now,” Campanilla said in an interview.
However, Remulla’s speedy trial was seen by other groups as something that should have been likewise accorded to people in the margins.
“Sana all other long pending cases are as expeditiously decided like that of the young Remulla. While poor families or victims of trumped up charges languish in jail for years, even decades, the young Remulla’s case is not even three months old,”Bayan Muna’s Carlos Zarate said.
Campanilla clarified however that the trial time of Remulla was in fact in accordance with the Supreme Court rule of dispensing cases within a 75-day period.
This not long after prompted calls for the justice secretary to resign his post given his potential influence on the case. He however vowed to keep his hands off on the matter.