“Hindi kasalanan ng ama ang kasalanan ng anak.”
For now, we will park that statement as a vacuous one, especially if it comes from Remulla political ally Bong Revilla. The moral theology of the sin-of-the-father-sin-of-the-son interface is the wrong application for the Remulla son’s riddle on his drug charges.
For countless reasons that we are inconveniently aware of, politicians are the wrong moral theologians to judge the official conduct of their peers in government. For instance this: “You call for somebody to resign if he is not doing his job or if he misbehaves in that job,” says Boying Remulla’s boss, the president. “I think the calls for him to resign have no basis.”
In fact there is. It is one of the most difficult standards to avoid, especially in the Philippine setting. A reminder to our many dynastic politicians who have blinders to see when it clashes in practice. It is called conflict of interest.
Human rights lawyer and law professor Ted Te captures very well the essence of conflict of interest that justice big shot Boying Remulla can heed: “Conflict of interest (or the perception of such) is a tricky thing: it is often the first thing one sees in others but often the last thing in ourselves.”
And then the clincher that Boying Remulla can learn the most valuable lesson from: “It 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.”
Consider how the son Juanito Jose Remulla III’s case has evolved since his arrest last October 11:
The arrest that happened at 11:05 in the morning of that day was a shrewd move. The shipment of a hoodie sweater having been analyzed previously in the airport premises, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency decided to conduct a controlled delivery of the parcel. At that point they already knew the enormity of the high- grade marijuana kush tucked inside. They also said they did not know who Juanito Jose Remulla III was (N.B. Vera Files opinion journalist Tita Valderrama does not think so).
Being a controlled delivery where a PDEA agent disguised himself as a deliveryman, they caught the addressee Remulla in flagrante delicto – he presented his identification to the deliveryman. That was its masterstroke. Everything proceeded well at that point. Take note as well that this was a snail mail parcel through the postal service. The fact that it was intercepted through x-ray machines and then through K9 was a job well done.
Having been arrested, we can surmise the Remulla son contacted his family. His father the justice secretary was in Geneva defending the tainted human rights record of the government. It was the secretary’s brother Cavite governor Jonvic Remulla who released a statement to the media. But this was already on October 13 Thursday.
Question: why did it take two full days for the arresting authorities to do public disclosure of the arrest? We thus cannot blame the public interest question: W hat did PDEA or the Philippine National Police discuss with the Remulla family that resulted in the delay? PDEA chief Derrick Carreon said it is a reglementary protocol of the agency to disclose arrests only a day following the arrest. But we are talking about two full days here. Explain please, PDEA.
And then the problematic part inevitably arose – what charges will be filed against the Remulla son? Initially, PDEA said the Remulla son’s violation consisted of three – importation of illegal drugs and possession of illegal drugs, both violations of the Dangerous Drugs Act. But PDEA had earlier said there is a third violation, that of customs laws.
As of this writing, only one charge has been announced by prosecutor Jennah Marie dela Cruz – with emphasis on the fact that she is a subaltern of justice secretary Remulla – the possession of illegal drugs aspect. Carreon had earlier said that the importation aspect is the heavier violation with absolutely no benefit of bail. What has happened to it? Dela Cruz said the importation case is still under preliminary investigation at the Pasay City courts. Explain please, Department of Justice prosecutors.
And then two very distinct manifestations of preferential treatment came about. The first was the blurred mugshots of the Remulla son published both on print and broadcast media. Arrested individuals who are not children of the justice secretary or have no power influence with a sitting administration are not accorded that ethic. On the same week, the estranged former wife of senator Koko Pimentel, Jewel May Lobaton – who he continually vilifies in media – was arrested in Laoag City and her mugshots subsequently released to media by the PNP. Double standard.
In 2018, PDEA announced it wants surprise mandatory drug tests for schools beginning with Grade 4. But what did it advice for the Remulla case? He will not undergo a drug test. Carreon said it is “not material to his case.” Say that again? It IS material to his case – a positive result from a mandatory drug test will actually add to his criminal charge. Busted, PDEA.
Boying Remulla has vowed that he will not intervene for his son. Is that the appropriate assurance against conflict of interest? “Despite his reassurances that he will not interfere in his son’s case, his position still creates pressure on the enforcement agencies and other people involved,” avers UP political science professor Maria Ela Atienza. In the DOJ hierarchy, prosecutors’ job security will always be under the discretion of the secretary of justice that will hang from hereon as a Sword of Damocles over their heads.
Who are the Remullas and what exactly is their clout? It is a family that is courted by national politicians every election. Their delivery of votes – in whatever way that is done – is desired by national politicians wanting a win in Cavite province, even if it takes turncoatism to achieve that. In the 2016 elections, the Remullas supported Jejomar Binay for president. As the elections drew near almost at the end of April, they announced they were dumping Binay for Rodrigo Duterte, saying they “listened to the clamor of their people.”
The wealth and power of the clan cannot be underestimated. They reportedly became P7 billion wealthier from the sale of the family owned Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park in Kawit, Cavite to a company that now manages a huge-scale Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (POGO) in the island. Only recently, Boying Remulla said he is against a shutdown of POGO operations as it may result in a “humanitarian crisis” for the thousands of Chinese POGO workers. See how traditional politicians like them articulate their interests in their policy formations?
What is its influence with the Marcos government? Former congressman Gilbert Remulla was recently appointed as director of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) that oversees casino operations in the country. One of the Remulla brothers is married to the daughter of a close Marcos family friend.
Is there hope that noblesse oblige will prevail with Boying Remulla? After arriving from Geneva, he refused to face the media at the Department of Justice. Instead he appeared in a hagiographic interview at SMNI where its owner, the FBI-wanted Apollo Quiboloy, excessively flattered him. With Quiboloy was one “Ka Eric” Celiz of Lorraine Badoy Partosa red-tagging association. Both at that point became Remulla’s chief apologists. They should not be in the journalism profession. And neither should Boying Remulla be in a government agency that is prosecuting his son for life imprisonment.
The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.