Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Marcos: ‘No basis’ for Remulla to resign over son’s arrest

Bea Cupin
Marcos: ‘No basis’ for Remulla to resign over son’s arrest

JUSTICE CHIEF. Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin 'Boying' Remulla faces the Commission on Appointments committee on justice and judicial and bar council on September 14, 2022.

SENATE PRIB

(2nd UPDATE) 'You call for somebody to resign if he’s not doing his job or that they have misbehaved in that job.... He has done quite the contrary,' says President Marcos

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. shielded Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla from resignation calls on Friday, October 14, saying there is “no basis” for the latter to step down after the Cabinet official’s son was arrested for alleged drug possession.

“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 that they have misbehaved in that job…. He has done quite the contrary,” Marcos said on the sidelines of Department of Science and Technology event in Pasay City.

On October 11, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) led an operation to arrest Remulla’s eldest son, Juanito Jose Diaz Remulla III, for alleged possession of marijuana. PDEA made public the incident in a statement on Thursday, October 13, which was followed by a statement from the justice secretary.

In a hand-written statement, Remulla had vowed that he “will not intervene” in his son’s case. “A person should always face the consequence of their actions and I will let justice take its own course,” said Remulla, who as justice secretary oversees the country’s prosecutors.

In defending the Cabinet official, Marcos cited Remulla’s own statement.

“He has taken the very proper position that he is recusing himself from any involvement in the case of his son. And I think that being the secretary of [the] Department of Justice, he’s very aware that he must allow the processes of the judiciary to work properly and that no one in the executive should interfere,” said Marcos.

Party support

The National Unity Party (NUP) expressed continued support for its vice chairman.

“We have known Secretary Remulla for years. His professionalism and love of country is unparalleled. We also commend Secretary Remulla for promptly assuring authorities that he will not, in any way, interfere  in or influence the case of his son,” said the party in a statement signed by NUP chairman Ronaldo Puno, and president Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte.

The NUP endorsed Marcos in 2022 and is part of the ruling coalition. 

Senators won’t call for resignation

On Friday, October 14, several senators reflected the President’s position that Remulla should on as justice secretary.

Senator JV Ejercito vouched for Secretary Remulla’s integrity.

“Knowing Sec. Boying Remulla for three decades, I know he will not tolerate this even if it’s his son who is involved,” said Ejercito. “Iba ang prinsipyo ni Sec. Boying. Kilala ko ang taong ito (Secretary Boying’s principles are something else. I know this person).”

“I know his character and his dedication to public service. I have seen how proud he was working with PMS (Presidential Management Staff) serving the President and the country,” Ejercito added. Remulla was with the PMS during the time of Ejercito’s father, President Joseph Estrada.

Meanwhile, the President’s sister, Senator Imee Marcos, said Secretary Remulla’s handwritten statement was “self-evident.”

Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel declined to comment, saying he lacked knowledge of the facts, but said he had “heard of the statement of the DOJ secretary and it is sincere and self-explanatory.”

Senator Win Gatchalian said Remulla should not be judged based on the actions of an adult son no longer under his control.

“In my humble opinion, calls for the resignation of Sec. Remulla after the apprehension of his adult son is uncalled for, unjust and without basis. I firmly believe that all public servants should be judged on their own merits, on their work performance and not on what other people (even if related to them) do, most especially in this case a 38 year old adult. The adult son of Sec. Remulla exercises judgement independence and the good Secretary ceased to be his keeper when he turned 18.”

The senator cited Remulla for his accomplishments during the Marcos administration’s early months. “If the past 100 days in office of Sec. Remulla will be the basis for evaluation, then clearly the DOJ is in for more positive reforms in the coming years. I look forward to more progressive reforms in the DOJ under his stewardship,” Gatchalian said.

Different approach to drug war

The Remullas – a powerful political clan in Cavite – are key allies of the Marcos administration. Secretary Remulla, who ran and won to represent the 7th District of Cavite in the House, campaigned with and endorsed Marcos and his running mate, Vice President Sara Duterte in the 2022 elections.

Ahead of his assumption as justice secretary, Remulla had said that the Department of Justice under the Marcos administration would look into “red flags” and “pattern” of the previous administration’s anti-drug campaign.

Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs” targeted mostly the poor yet was supported at the time by many Filipinos and key political allies of Duterte, including Remulla.

Remulla, as justice secretary, has promised to be “serious” about human rights in the Philippines. Rights groups – both local and international – have repeatedly sounded the alarm over human rights violations, especially in the name of the so-called “drug war.” Duterte and his allies have either rejected or downplayed these criticisms.

Marcos himself has acknowledged – albeit subtly – the failure of Duterte’s drug war. He has vowed to pursue the campaign against illegal drugs but in a “slightly different” way, citing the need to focus more on prevention and helping heal those who are already addicted to illegal substances.

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.