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New DOJ chief to prioritize review of Espinosa, Napoles cases

  • DOJ chief Guevarra vowed to prioritize the Espinosa and Napoles cases
  • Guevarra said he won’t make premature statements until he has a good grasp of the issues
  • In the case of Napoles the new Justice Secretary said he will let the prosecutors deal with her lawyers

MANILA, Philippines  –  The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) newly-appointed Secretary Menardo Guevarra vowed to prioritize the review of the Espinosa and Napoles cases; two of the high-profile and controversial cases which brought the downfall of his predecessor.

Guevarra took over the DOJ helm after former Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre resigned last April 5 following the public outcry over the dismissal of drug conspiracy charges against Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim and 20 other suspected drug lords, and the acceptance of alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles to the witness protection program (WPP).

In a statement to the reporters on Monday, Guevarra said he will not prejudge the cases until he forms his own conclusion.

“For now, I can only say that I will review previous actions on the Espinosa and Napoles cases. That’s top priority in view of the public interest involved,” said Guevarra.

Before Aguirre resigned, he ordered the review of the both cases and assigned a new panel of prosecutors to reopen the investigation. However, that did not save him from being sacked by the President.

“I don’t want to make premature statements on pending cases till I have a good grasp of the issues,” Guevarra added.

As for the Napoles case, in particular, Guevarra said he will let the DOJ prosecutors deal with her lawyers, and he will deal with the prosecutors.

In March, Napoles lawyer Stephen David admitted before the Sandiganbayan he personally met with Aguirre and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea at the Palace to seek counsel on his client’s planned admittance into the WPP.

Aguirre and Medialdea both denied giving legal advice to David, who is a known supporter of the President. All four have the same alma mater – the San Beda Law school.