From ‘protector’ to ‘godfather’, Tulfo insists Aguirre link to ‘pastillas’ scheme
MANILA, Philippines — Columnist Ramon Tulfo has been tagging former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II as the “protector” of the “pastillas” racket in the Bureau of Immigration (BI). On Tuesday, he called the former Duterte Cabinet official the “godfather” of the notorious multi-billion-peso scheme.
During the Senate committee investigation into the anomaly, Tulfo claimed Aguirre issued a memorandum circular that supposedly prevented the BI commissioner from re-assigning and assigning personnel and instead let the former justice chief to designate people at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
“Siya po ‘yung naga-assign ng personnel ng immmigration sa airport. Ibig sabihin niyan, hindi pwedeng sila sila lamang, yung mga immigration officer sa airport. Kailangan may puno iyan, may godfather, Ang godfather po niyan is Aguirre,” Tulfo alleged.
(He is the one to assign the immigration personnel. This means that the officers involved in the scam cannot just be working on their own. There needs to be a tree, a godfather. The godfather is Aguirre.)
But Aguirre denied this and challenged Tulfo to release a copy of the alleged memorandum.
As both continued to trade insults, Aguirre renewed his challenge to the columnist to file cases if he can back it up with evidence.
“Handa kitang samahan kahit kaninong pulis tayo pumunta. Sasamahan pa kita and I’m sure na itong mga police natin ay walang gagawin diyan sa complaint mo kundi ilalagay lang sa basurahan sapagkat wala kang ebidensiya laban sa akin,” Aguirre said.
(I can even accompany you to any police station. But I’m sure that your complaint will just be thrown in the trash because you have no evidence against him.)
In the same hearing, Senator Risa Hontiveros also raised questions on the fact a father-and-son previously led the BI Ports Operation Division (POD) and the Special Operations and Communications Unit.
She was referring to former POD chief Marc Red Mariñas, who was tagged as the leader of the racket, and his father Maynardo Mariñas.
But BI deputy commissioner Tobias Javier told the Senate committee that it was Commissioner Jaime Morente who appointed the older Mariñas to the position.
“This belies the declaration of Tulfo who, because of his lies against me, says that I was the one who appointed both the father and son,” Aguirre said.
“Itong si Tulfo proved nothing because of this personal vendetta against me,” the former justice chief added, even accusing the columnist of being scared since he was not physically present during the hearing.
Aguirre told the Senate panel that Tulfo is a “fugitive from justice” and that the latter has standing arrest warrants.
“Bakit nawawala dito si Tulfo sa kabila ng his penchant for publicity?” he asked.
(Why is he not here despite his penchant for publicity.)
“Takot umattend dito ngayon sapagkat siya ay aarestuhin ng ating may kapangyarihan. Bakit hindi ka umattend dito at ipakita mo ang tapang mo?” he added.
(He is scared to attend because he will be arrested by authorities. Why are you not here? Show us your fearlessness.)
In response, Tulfo explained he did not show up physically in the hearing because of the Senate’s new requirement for visitors to present a medical certificate.
“Masyado nang stringent ‘yung reuquirements diyan. Masakit po ‘yung sina-swab eh… Hindi po ako naduwag, gustong-gusto kong pong pumunta diyan,” he said.
(Your requirement is too stringent… Getting swab-tested hurts… But I really want to be there.)
Citing a “very reliable” and “unimpeachable” source, Tulfo also claimed that Aguirre and a group of lawyers have plotted to humiliate him in the Senate.
“Sabi po ni Aguirre na meron po akong warrant of arrest. Alam po ninyo, may plano na po sila…na ipaaresto ako sa sa harap mismo ng Senado,” the columnist said.
(Aguirre said I have a standing warrant of arrest. You know, they had the plan… to have me arrested in front of the Senate.)
“Diyan mismo…poposasan at dalhin kung saang station para po mapahiya ako,” he added.
(Right in front of the Senate…I will be handcuffed and will be brought to some station so that I would be humiliated.)
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