Marcos: Justice secretary should not resign over son’s drug arrest

BenarNews staff
Marcos: Justice secretary should not resign over son’s drug arrest Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. speaks at a forum in Manila, Oct. 5, 2022.
Aaron Favila/AP

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday rejected calls for the country’s justice secretary to step down after his son was caught in a drug raid earlier this week.

Marcos said calls for Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla “to resign have no basis” because he was not responsible for his son’s actions.

Remulla’s son, Juanito Jose Diaz Remulla III, 38, was arrested Tuesday for alleged possession of marijuana valued at U.S. $22,000 (1.3 million pesos). The drug package allegedly consigned to the younger Remulla was shipped from the U.S. and intercepted on Sept. 27 by customs police in Manila.

“You call for somebody to resign if he’s not doing his job or [if] he has misbehaved in that job,” Marcos told reporters during a chance interview Friday.

“He has not done [anything wrong]. He has done quite the contrary – he has taken the very proper position that he is recusing himself from any involvement in the case of his son.”

Police announced the arrest on Thursday. The younger Remulla has been charged with alleged drug trafficking, a non-bailable offense that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

On Friday, Marcos said the justice secretary was “aware that he must allow the processes of the judiciary to work properly and that no one in the executive [department] should interfere.”

In a statement on Thursday, the elder Remulla assured the public that he would not interfere in the case and “let justice take its own course.”

The justice secretary said he was cognizant that many Filipino families had been affected by drugs, adding that he wished his son would follow a “path to redemption.”


Rights groups, opposition politicians and relatives of those killed during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs expressed concerns about Remulla after his son’s arrest.

Edre Olalia, president of the National Union of People’s Lawyers that represents some of the drug war victims’ survivors in cases against Duterte, said the arrest is a challenge for the country’s justice system.

“It is a litmus test, on … the integrity of the justice system, particularly the prosecutorial service, as well as the trust of the public and confidence in the integrity of the process,” he said.

Nanette Castillo, whose son Aldrin was fatally shot by suspected pro-government vigilantes in October 2017, said Remulla appeared soft on his own son accused of drug trafficking while calling for the death penalty for others similarly accused.   

She was part of a group that filed a case against Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC) where prosecutors have argued there is enough evidence to investigate the former president for thousands of deaths under his watch.

“I also wish for redemption for my son Aldrin, but why was he killed,” she told BenarNews. “He was never accorded due process.” 

“You are very callous,” she said of Remulla, who has said the Philippines did not need ICC investigators because the country’s judiciary could handle its own probe.

“You don’t want the ICC to investigate and yet here you are wanting redemption for your son.” 

De Lima reacts 

Former Sen. Leila de Lima, jailed on what she calls trumped-up drug charges filed against her by Duterte officials, said she sympathized with Remulla’s predicament, but stopped short of calling for his resignation. 

“This same cardinal presumption is what should have been upheld for those who have been judged all too swiftly in the past administration’s drug war and who were not given the chance to defend themselves before the courts,” said de Lima, a former justice secretary and a rights commissioner, in a handwritten statement. 

She said she respected Remulla’s pledge not to interfere in the case, because the justice system “is only worth the faith we put in it. 

“I hope it works for Secretary Remulla’s son, as I hope that it will also work for me as well as the thousands of others who were condemned to death without trial during the past administration,” she said. 

De Lima was one of the drug war’s staunchest critics. About 8,000 suspected addicts and dealers were killed during Duterte’s time in office, based on official figures. That number, however, could be three times higher, rights groups have said.

Duterte’s government accused de Lima of profiting from drug dealers when she served as justice secretary in the administration of Benigno Aquino III and jailed her in 2017.

The former senator issued her statement from a police hospital where she has been transferred just days after she was held hostage by an inmate identified as a Muslim militant.

On Friday, Marcos said the government was continuing to monitor de Lima, but stressed that she never asked for anything when they spoke shortly after her ordeal.

Meanwhile, United States Sen. Ed Markey and other lawmakers in Washington sent a letter to the Philippine government on Thursday urging the release of de Lima just days after the hostage drama.

“There appears to be no limit to the denial of due process, deprivation of liberty and life-threatening conditions to which the Government of the Philippines is willing to subject Sen. Leila de Lima despite the absence of any evidence to support the outrageous charges against her,” Markey and the other lawmakers said in a statement announcing the letter.

 “With Sen. de Lima having just narrowly escaped death at the hand of a knife-wielding hostage-taker, it is incumbent on the Philippine authorities to end this travesty at once.”

The Massachusetts senator led a delegation of U.S. lawmakers who visited de Lima in August.

Basilio Sepe and Jojo Riñoza in Manila, along with Dennis Jay Santos and Froilan Gallardo in Davao city, Philippines, contributed to this report.


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