Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre probably thought the public would buy his tale linking opposition lawmakers to the Maute terror group which is one of the reasons for the current turmoil in Marawi City.
It only affirmed his stupidity.
As social media commenter Joel Vivas tweeted, “Kakaibang level.”
Last Wednesday, Aguirre told media that Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Bam Aquino, along with Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano and Ronald Llamas, political adviser of former president Benigno Aquino III, met with members of the Alonto and Lucman clans in Marawi City on May 2.
He linked the meeting to the clash between government forces and the supporters of Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon, whom the military tried to capture. The armed clash led to the declaration of martial Law by President Duterte last May 23.
“It’s probable, it’s possible” that the meeting could have “sparked the terroristic acts in Marawi…Hindi ko malaman why after they went there, nagkagulo na after two weeks. They met with the people there, they met with several families there,” Aguirre said. He speculated some more that the lawmakers’ Marawi visit could be connected with the P79 million in cash and checks found in a Maute group-occupied house.
For proof, he showed reporters a picture of that “meeting.”
It turned out that the picture, which showed Trillanes, Alejano, Llamas, former Pampanga Gov. Mark Lapid and Zamboanga del Sur Vice Governor Ace Cerilles, was from the Facebook wall of Cerilles and was taken on Sept. 4, 2015 at Iloilo International Airport.
The lawmakers mentioned vehemently denied Aguirre’s tale and showed records of their attendance in Congress on May 2.
Trillanes did not mince words, in a statement he issued from The Hague, Netherlands where he and Alejano filed a supplemental communication to an earlier complaint filed against President Duterte by Atty. Jude Sabio at the International Criminal Court.
“The incompetence of Aguirre is only matched by his stupidity. I would advise him to avoid getting his intel from Facebook conspiracy theorists,” the former Navy officer said.
“For the record, I am not involved in any way with the Maute group or the Marawi incident. Sec. Lorenzana said so himself. I also did not have any meeting in Marawi in May 2 since I haven't visited Marawi for the past 3 years. But don't take my word for it, simply check the Senate records for May 2,” Trillanes further said.
Alejano, a former Marines officer, said the records will bear out that on May 2, he was in a press conference with the House media together with the members of the independent minority. He also attended the plenary session that afternoon as reflected in the Journal of the House of Representatives.
“I must remind Aguirre that the Magdalo represents former and retired members of the Armed Forces and pursues reforms in the security sector. The Magdalo will in no way put the lives of our soldiers and police in danger. Many of whom are our classmates and friends from the Philippine Military Academy and colleagues when we were still in the active service. The Magdalo would never support or affiliate with any terrorist organization,” he said.
Aquino said, on May 2, he was the commencement speaker of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines at the PICC and attended the session at the Philippine Senate. He was in Marawi last May 19 but it was to launch the first Negosyo Center in the ARMM. “ I had with me an AFP escort throughout my trip, which can easily be verified through the AFP,” he said.
Aguirre was battered in social media. Rep. Teddy B. Baguilat tweeted, “Sabi Aguirre na pakana nina Sen Bam, Trillanes, Cong Gary ang Marawi incident. Naka drugs na naman yata si Sec.”
Aguirre also got the ire of the Alonto and Lucman families prompting him to blame media saying he was "unfortunately misquoted."
Journalist Inday Espina-Varona slammed the justice secretary: “ Tumigil ka, Aguirre. Anong misquoted? Ang klaro klaro ng daloy ng quotes. Nagpakita ka pa ng ‘fake news photo’ 2015 pa yun!”
“Kung wala kang malisya, di mo gagawin yun. Sa dami daming problema ng bayan, dagdagan mo pa. Naghahanap lang kayo excuse ma-expand ang batas military,” Varona said.
The National Union of Journalists in the Philippines was unforgiving calling Aguirre “a mean-spirited coward.”
NUJP Chairperson Ryan Rosauro said, “There was no misquotation. Your words were recorded on video and audios were recorded on video and audio. So, no, you are not passing the buck on to reporters who did what they are supposed to do – accurately report your official acts and pronouncements.
“It is bad enough that you have shown no qualms about throwing the law, the truth and justice out the window in your headlong rush to persecute – sorry, prosecute – perceived foes of the administration.
“But trying to blame others for your blunders unmasks you as a mean-spirited coward.”
William C. Espina has a simple explanation for Aguirre’s spreading of fake news: “Eh kasi g*go.”
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