DOJ reinvestigates Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa drug cases

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 12) β€” The Justice Department has reopened its investigation on the cases against alleged drug lords earlier cleared by its panel of prosecutors.

During Thursday's preliminary investigation, the Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), said it needed more time, until April 30, to present additional documentary evidence and witnesses.

The Office of the Solicitor General now serves as the complainant's lead counsel in the cases against self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa, Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim, and several other suspects.

READ: Suspected drug lords Peter Lim, Kerwin Espinosa: What we know so far

Solicitor General Jose Calida said in March that his office "will be taking up the cudgels for PNP-CIDG in seeking to overturn the dismissal of the charges" against the alleged drug lords.

Government prosecutors earlier dropped the charges against the suspects for lack of evidence.

But President Rodrigo Duterte himself questioned why the case against Espinosa was dismissed by state prosecutors when Espinosa personally admitted he was involved in the Eastern Visayas drug trade.

Resigned Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre ordered the reinvestigation of the case to give both the police and the suspects a chance to present new evidence. He stepped down from his post in April.

Lim's camp on Thursday slammed Aguirre's decision to reopen the probe, saying it "vacated" the original resolution, and that it violates his right to due process and speedy trial. They also asked for a separate preliminary investigation to spare him from prejudice and confusion arising from "muddled issues and irrelevant pieces of evidence."

The panel gave PNP-CIDG until April 17 to file its comment on Lim's motion.

Newly appointed Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra in a text message said he will "surely act" to resolve the cases.

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario and Eimor Santos contributed to this report.