DOJ summons Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim over drug charges

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(File photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 28) — Alleged drug lords Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim, along with several other suspects, have been  called on by the Justice Department as it begins to reinvestigate their cases.

A subpoena issued on March 22 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) directed Espinosa, Lim, and 20 others to attend the preliminary hearing on April 12.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Jua Pedro Navera, Assistant State Prosecutor Ann Noreen Devanadera, and Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan make up the new panel tasked to investigate the cases.

The subpoena stated failure to attend will be "under penalty of law."

The charges against Espinosa, Lim, and others were dropped by the first panel of DOJ prosecutors in December 2017.

The 41-page resolution announcing the decision was made public earlier this month said there was a "dearth of evidence" against those accused.

Marcelo Adoro, the sole witness in the complaint filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Major Crimes Investigation Unit (CIDG-MCIU), was also deemed unreliable and that his testimonies were "rife with inconsistencies and contradictions," casting doubts on their truthfulness.

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre came under fire for the dismissal of charges, with lawmakers questioning the integrity of the administration's war against illegal drugs.

Following the revelation, Aguirre created a new prosecution panel to review the drug charges and called on the National Bureau of Investigation to look into possible wrongful exercise of authority by the initial panel.

Aguirre later apologized to the prosecutors, saying  "it is not correct" for him to order the probe.

In a press conference on March 26, Aguirre said he ordered the investigation because of the public outcry against the decision, and because he wanted to show there was nothing to hide as the prosecutors decided on the case in accordance with the law.

READ: Aguirre apologizes to justice prosecutors involved in dismissal of raps vs. Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim

On Wednesday, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) asked President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the Justice Department prosecutors who cleared high profile drug personalities of charges.

PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica said they are recommending the preventive suspension pending the investigation of all the prosecutors who handled the case.

He added the members of the police who presented a weak case should be held accountable as well.

CNN Philippines' Pia Garcia, Eimor Santos, and Chad de Guzman contributed to this report.