MANILA - Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday slammed activist priest Fr. Robert Reyes for criticizing the administration while supposedly keeping mum on the sins of the clergy.
He made the statement after Reyes, fellow priest Fr. Flavie Villanueva and youth groups filed a motion at the Department of Justice (DOJ) asking the agency to inhibit from the investigation of the controversial slay of 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos over Aguirre's alleged partiality.
The teen's killing in a drug operation on Aug. 16 in Caloocan City has drawn public outrage as witness statements and evidence suggested that he was murdered.
"I am just wondering why in the face of reports of Filipino priests molesting minors, of Filipino priests fathering children, of Filipino priests bringing minor girls to motels and those Filipino priests molesting sacristans, the good Fr. Reyes is surprisingly silent on these serious matters involving Filipino minors," Aguirre said in a statement.
"Maybe it is just me, but I cannot help but wonder," he added.
In seeking Aguirre's inhibition, Reyes urged the justice chief to resign from office for supposedly "making a mockery of the justice system."
Amid outrage over the killing, Aguirre had said Delos Santos' death had been "blown out of proportion," prompting Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon to call out his alleged 'bias' in the case.
The Office of the Ombudsman has launched an inquiry into the teen's death. Aguirre earlier said the Ombudsman had no jurisdiction over the Delos Santos case.
The Ombudsman, he said, only handles cases against public officials of a certain salary grade. The operatives tagged in the Aug. 16 raid where Delos Santos were killed fall below the pay grade, he said.
Aguirre also said he would not resign from his post "as long as I enjoy the trust and confidence of the President."
The Delos Santos family on Friday filed a murder complaint against relieved Caloocan City police station 7 chief Chief Inspector Amor Cerillo, and the 3 officers tagged in the shooting, PO3 Arnel Oares, PO1 Jerwin Cruz, and PO1 Jeremias Pereda.
Oares, Cruz, and Pereda were also charged with violation of the anti-torture law.
Police claim that the boy was a drug runner and that he fired at pursuing cops on the night of the operation, prompting the officers to fire back.
Delos Santos' family denied that the teen was involved in illegal drugs.
Security footage on the night of the incident captured the boy being dragged by two men moments before he was killed. Witnesses, meanwhile, testified that the officers gave the boy a gun and told him to run for his life.