Aguirre still enjoys Duterte’s trust–Palace
President Duterte still trusts Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II despite being unhappy with the justice department’s dismissal of drug trafficking charges against high-profile drug suspect Peter Lim and confessed drug boss Kerwin Espinosa, according to Malacañang.
Lawmakers have been calling for the resignation or firing of Aguirre but as long as Mr. Duterte keeps him at the Department of Justice (DOJ), it means the President trusts him, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing on Thursday.
“For as long as he has not been fired, he enjoys the trust and confidence of the President, as you know, as is the case with all of us,” Roque said.
He said earlier that the President only found out about the DOJ prosecutors’ dismissal of the drug case from news reports. The President leaves matters like these to line agencies, Roque said.
“So I don’t think it’s an issue that the President did not know about it. But when the President found out, he made his sentiments very clear,” he said.
Roque said the promotion of Aristotle Reyes, one of the DOJ prosecutors who cleared Lim and Espinosa, to trial court judge had nothing to do with the dismissal of the drug charges.
“It’s farfetched. If at all, if the President knew that he cleared these individuals, he probably would not have been appointed,” Roque said.
Part in De Lima’s fall
Espinosa is a confessed drug dealer who played a part in bringing down Sen. Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of Mr. Duterte’s bloody war on drugs who is now detained on charges of conspiracy to trade drugs.
Lim had been tagged by the President himself as one of the people behind the illegal narcotics trade in the Visayas. Lim denied the allegation during a meeting with Mr. Duterte.
Mr. Duterte had said he would invoke his power of supervision and control and review the dismissal of the case against Espinosa and the others.
He also threatened to have Aguirre replace Lim and Espinosa in jail if the two men walk.
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