No explosive De Lima-Aguirre meet
What was expected to be an explosive encounter between Sen. Leila De Lima and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II after trading barbs and accusations in public, turned out to be generally civil.
De Lima opted to hold back her tirades against her nemesis during the Senate sub-committee on finance’s deliberation on the proposed P15 billion budget of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and its attached agencies for next year.
She later explained to reporters that she did not want to take advantage of the proceedings which were reserved for the budget of the department she previously headed.
“Definitely it’s not good what’s happening at the DOJ. That I know the conscientious segment of the DOJ family also do not like what is happening but they have no choice because they have a new leader, there is a new President and they are part of the executive department… I don’t want to utilize this venue, this forum because this is about budget,” she said.
Seated across Aguirre during the hearing, De Lima began her queries on DOJ’s proposed budget by assuring her support for her “former family” as an institution.
“So I’m exercising the better part of my judgment that I will not do or say anything here that will further fuel what’s happening today. I have psyched myself today and to forget momentarily about the pain that I’m experiencing right now seeing your former institution being used as a weapon in the continued vilification against me. But as I said, I will be very civil today, very professional, a statesman, because I love DOJ,” she said.
There was slight tension when in the course of De Lima’s questions, Aguirre said: “I would like to assure the good senator, former secretary of justice that we will not be using the office of the DOJ to persecute anybody. We will just be applying the law.”
To which De Lima’s responded: “That is your opinion Secretary Aguirre and I respect that. You have your perception and I have my own perception.” Aguirre conceded and urged
the senator to consider the DOJ her family and not as her
Aguirre believes the noose is tightening on the neck of De Lima after what he believed as damaging testimony from former Bureau of Corrections Chief Franklin Bucayu concerning the close ties between the former DOJ chief and Bilibid convict Jaybee Sebastian.
In an interview, Aguirre said that Bucayu and other resource persons in the house committee on justice probe were able “to pin her down and that is
good for us.” —with a report from Gil C. Cabacungan
“The testimonies against (De Lima) have had a positive effect, We have two more who would say that they directly gave money to De Lima,” said Aguirre.
While Bucayu denied accusations by high-profile inmates that he received bribes from convicted drug lords inside the New Bilibid Prison, he testified that he saw De Lima enter Sebastian’s luxurious “kubol” at least once.
Sebastian has been tagged as De Lima’s alleged point man in the drug operations inside the NBP. De Lima denied these charges and claimed that Sebastian was a “government asset.”
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