war on drugs

What you need to know: Remulla son’s drug case


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What you need to know: Remulla son’s drug case
Resignation calls abound amid the arrest of Justice Secretary Boying Remulla’s son over illegal drug possession. Here’s what you need to know about the issue.

MANILA, Philippines – In the past few days, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla has been in the spotlight over his son’s arrest.

Several groups have called on the justice secretary to resign out of shame, but President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said there is “no basis” for such calls.

What is the issue all about?

Who is Juanito Jose?

Juanito Jose Remulla III, 38, is Boying’s eldest son.

Juanito Jose was arrested on October 11 by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and members of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group in Las Piñas City. Authorities seized from him P1.3-million worth of kush, a type of marijuana, weighing close to 900 grams.

A controlled delivery operation was conducted, which means that authorities allowed the delivery to proceed and used it as the basis for arrest. Juanito Jose was the intended recipient of the high-grade cannabis.

Juanito Jose’s arrest was announced publicly two days later, on October 13.

What was he charged with?

A day after, on October 14, Las Piñas prosecutors filed a complaint against Juanito Jose regarding illegal drug possession. Prosecutors said Remulla’s son violated Section 11 of Republic Act (RA) No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act. 

Under Section 11, possession of more than 500 grams of marijuana has a penalty of life imprisonment and a fine ranging from P500,000 to P10 million. Prosecutors did not recommend bail for Juanito Jose.

Aside from this, the younger Remulla could be facing charges of illegal drug importation and violation of customs law. The preliminary investigation into the complaints was referred to Pasay City prosecutors as “most elements of the crime” happened there. The parcels containing marijuana were intercepted at NAIA, which is in Pasay City.

Where is the younger Remulla now?

Juanito Jose is currently detained in a PDEA facility, pending orders from the court.

Was there VIP treatment?

The younger Remulla’s arrest made headlines on October 13, two days after he was apprehended. It was first confirmed to the media by Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla – Juanito Jose’s uncle – before issuing a statement posted on his official Facebook page.

In a media interview, PDEA said that it followed all procedures. PDEA spokesman Derrick Carreon said the agents only learned of younger Remulla’s family background after the fact.

Why did it take authorities two full days before announcing the arrest? Carreon said that PDEA had to validate the information before going public with it.

The initial handout mugshots of Juanito Jose’s face were also blurred by PDEA. Carreon told GMA News Online that PDEA has a policy of blurring suspects’ photos, issued in 2021, although the agency has been practicing it “for a long time.” Carreon also noted that the policy was made because of complaints. A cursory search on the PDEA Facebook page would show that the agency started blurring alleged suspects’ faces on photos from 2021.

Later, PDEA released Juanito Jose’s unedited mugshots.

PDEA also confirmed that Juanito Jose “refused” to undergo drug testing on the advice of his counsel. Carreon said that it is “not material” to the case.

If the younger Remulla tested positive, it would be a criminal offense – a violation of Section 15 of RA 9165 on the use of dangerous drugs. A proviso, however, stated that Section 15 shall not be applicable if the tested, who has a positive result, is found to have a high quantity of dangerous drugs as specified under Section 11. Juanito Jose has allegedly violated Section 11 by having more than half a kilo of marijuana in his possession.

A test of independence?

As justice secretary, Boying is the top boss of all prosecutors in the Philippines. 

Boying has already vowed not to intervene in his son’s case, saying that “he will have to face his predicament as a fully emancipated child.” 

President Marcos, whom the Remullas of vote-rich Cavite supported during the elections, was quick to defend Boying. “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,” the President said.

As soon as the case was filed against the Remulla son, Las Piñas prosecutor Jennah Marie dela Cruz also tried to assuage fears by saying that the office acted independently. “There was no participation or intervention by any department, especially the secretary of justice. Also because yesterday, we were blocking people from coming inside our office,” Dela Cruz said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Cavite politicians and some senators also backed Boying’s integrity.

Yet media watchdog Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility said that Boying has “lost his moral right” to his position. 

Former Supreme Court spokesperson Ted Te also pointed out that conflict of interest “isn’t so much what you say you will or will not do, but what others will or will not do because you are there.”

Maria Ela Atienza, a University of the Philippines political science professor, has the same opinion. “His position still creates pressure on the enforcement agencies and other people involved,” she said.

On Tuesday, October 18, the justice secretary reiterated that he will not resign and that petitions related to the offenses of his son should be appealed in court. Similar to his position on former senator Leila de Lima’s drug cases, Boying leaves his son’s case to the courts to decide. – Rappler.com

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