Aguirre fires parting shot at critics
Former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II was not done yet with his critics as he expressed grudges during his last address at Department of Justice (DOJ).
Speaking before DOJ officials and employees on Tuesday morning, Aguirre dismissed the attacks hurled at him over the dismissal of drug charges against self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa and businessman Peter Lim as “pure black propaganda.”
“I believe this is pure black propaganda,” the ex-DOJ chief said. “The Office of the Secretary of Justice or the Secretary of Justice has no fault in this matter. There were just people riding on the issue because they do not know the process at the DOJ.”
“They just wanted to get rid of the DOJ Secretary who they fear and who they hate. They just want to ride on the issue even if it is baseless,” he stressed.
Aguirre also insisted that he would never interfere in drug cases “unless absolutely necessary.”
“From the beginning, I denied this. That is not true. There are two levels of investigation at the DOJ,” Aguirre said, explaining that the first level was the National Prosecution Service, while the second was the DOJ secretary’s office.
“I do not interfere with the prosecutors, I never told them to dismiss the case. They filed it in accordance to what is right and that is what they did,” Aguirre stressed.
“That is why I stood by the decision of prosecutor and I told everybody that I am responsible for your decision. The buck stops with me,” he said. “It does not matter if I would be dismissed from the service, but I stood by you [prosecutors].”
Also, Aguirre said that he stands by his decision to place alleged pork barrel scam queen Janet Lim-Napoles under provisional coverage of the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
However, the First Division of the Sandiganbayan denied Napoles’s plea to be released from detention and transferred to WPP custody.
“I believe that it is right that Napoles will be allowed to testify, to spill everything, to spill the beans on everybody so that the guilty or those who have knowledge would be brought to bars of justice,” Aguirre said.
President Rodrigo Duterte accepted Aguirre’s resignation amid public outrage against the DOJ when prosecutors dismissed the drug charges filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) against Lim and Espinosa, among others.
Duterte then replaced Aguirre with Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra to lead the DOJ.
Guevarra took his oath of office before Duterte in Malacañang on April 5.
The president’s marching orders, Guevarra said, was to “bring back the DOJ’s dignified image.”
“The President told me to bring back the DOJ’s dignified image. The President seldom sees me, yet he entrusts such a sensitive position to me. I’m overwhelmed with such confidence,” Guevarra said. /atm/ac
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