Remulla to pursue judicial reforms amid son’s arrest on drug charges

Justice Secretary Crispin R. Remulla said the negative criticisms hounding his eldest son’s arrest over alleged involvement in the importation of P1.3 million worth of high-grade marijuana will not stop him from implementing the needed reforms in the justice system.

“This will inspire me to double my pace. Napakarami hong due yesterday. Hindi pwede maghintay ang mga pagbabago sa sistema ng hustisya (A lot of work was due yesterday. Changes in the justice system cannot wait),” Remulla said in an interview with SMNI Friday.

Admitting that he considers the arrest of his 39-year-old son Juanito Jose Remulla III as only a test for him and his family, and how the country will handle a sensitive matter, he said he will just let justice takes its course as Secretary of the Department of Justice.

“Even from the very beginning when I found out, I didn’t ask anyone for a favor, I told my wife to just get him a lawyer so he can defend himself. It’s a basic right to be presumed innocent,” said Remulla who just came from an engagement with the United Nation Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

He said he has not talked with his son nor with anyone at the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency where his son is detained.

“May abogado rin na nagpunta sa kaniya pero hindi ako nangingialam kahit kilala ko ho yan. Kasi sa posisyon kong ito kahit kilala ko halos lahat ng tao diyan (PDEA) wala akong kinakausap para tumulong (A lawyer already went to see my son but I didn’t bother to intervene. Because in my position, even though I know almost everyone there (PDEA), I don’t talk to anyone to help,” he added.

He went on to say that even in the past as a lawyer himself, he never asked a judge a favor to acquit anybody.

“It’s not in my character. It’s wrong, really wrong,” he said. “The system has to work. I am on top of the system. I trust the system will work.”

He admitted that he and his son have disagreements, but it is for their family to deal with.

Drugs, a huge problem

“For me, there is so much work to do. Reforming the justice system is one of the hardest tasks given to anybody in this country. I am not complaining because I am for these reforms,” said Remulla.

Life, he said, is too short for us to not act on the problems we have today.

“We have to help our country move forward and now is the time to do it. This drug problem is huge. This is not just individual rights but a culture of individualism that involves the family,” he added.

“There are many opponents and we have to face them one by one.”

In the Philippines, he said no family is left unaffected by illegal drugs.

“Sinabi ko in the open before the United Nations that former President Rodrigo Duterte, despite the criticisms still got 87 percent approval by the people,” Remulla said.

Judicial reforms, he said, earned the ire of many.

“Maraming pinangagalingan yan. Sa Medium Security Prison pinaputol ko ang kuryente na ninanankaw nila sa gobyerno. Pag nagdesisyon tayo sa isang parte, maraming nagagalit (That has many origins. At the Medium Security Prison, I cut off the electricity they steal from the government. When we decide on one side, many people get angry),” he said. “That’s justice.”

Reacting to President Ferdinand R. Marcos’ statement that there is no reason to let him resign, Remulla said he serves at the pleasure of the President.

“At the first instance na hindi na tayo nakakatulong (that I am no longer of help), I know what to do, hindi tayo kapit tuko (will not hold on). We do our job for the country,” he said.

Marcos, at the sidelines of the recent Department of Science and Technology event in Pasay City, was quoted as saying, “I think the calls for him to resign have no basis. You call for somebody to resign if he’s not doing his job or if they have misbehaved in that job… He has done quite the contrary.”

“Each of us has to live with the consequences of our actions including my fully emancipated son, 39. We face our own demons,” he said.

Juanito Jose III has been charged on 14 October before the Las Piñas City Regional Trial Court with violation of Section 11 of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 for possession of illegal drugs.

A lawmaker, meanwhile, vouched for Remulla’s “integrity in putting the service to the country.”

Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco on Saturday threw his support for Remulla, whom he has known for over three decades for his “exemplary integrity and utmost dignity.”

“Walang kamag-anak, kaibigan o kapatid when it come to his highest standards of professionalism,” Haresco, House Committee on Appropriations chairperson, said.

“Boying always puts country and service to people first,” he added.

Might be a ‘setup’

Haresco, on the other hand, couldn’t help but think that the drug sting operation might have been a “setup” from illegal drug syndicates, who wished to settle a score with Remulla over his “successful” anti-drug campaign.

“This incident reeks of a set-up from those who seek to besmirch the consequential legacy of Secretary Remulla in public service,” the veteran lawmaker said, adding that it only shows how desperate illegal syndicates are.

The DoJ secretary did not tolerate his son’s drug involvement and vowed that he would not intervene nor influence his son’s case.

Edjen Oliquino

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