The incoming justice secretary says he will use a 'shock and awe' approach to clean up the national penitentiary, which he believes has turned into a huge drug haven.
Vitaliano Aguirre, presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte's anointed chief of the Department of Justice (DOJ), revealed his plan of action on ANC's Headstart on Tuesday.
"I would employ, parang 'yung sa movie, shock and awe,” he said, referring to a military move where a spectacular display of force proceeds use of overwhelming power to paralyze the enemy.
Half of Manila, he said, is infested with drugs but what shocked him was that the same prevalence was present in his province in Mulanay, Quezon.
To combat the drug problem, Aguirre wants to zero in on the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), since he believes this houses the biggest drug lords. He said he has received reports that detainees are already manufacturing drugs inside the prison.
"They have been raiding the Bureau of Corrections once a week, but every time that they raided it, meron pa ring mga contraband," he said.
"Ang ibig sabihin niyan, 'yung mga insiders, 'yung mga mismong employees ng Bureau of Corrections are the ones involved," he added.
Aguirre said, if it is necessary, he will replace all prison guards and officials of the BuCor.
He added that he likes the pronouncement of the anointed Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Chief Superintendent Ronald Dela Rosa's statement saying "wag kayong haharang-harang sa’kin, kasi sagasaan ko kayo."
Aguirre said he has sought the counsel of two former directors of the BuCor and will ask for Dela Rosa's help should they need police command.
NO SELECTIVE JUSTICE
Aguirre has also vowed to serve justice without favors—not for outgoing President Aquino's Cabinet members, not even for the Iglesia ni Cristo, which has endorsed Duterte.
Perhaps on top of his list, he said, would be running after officials of the Aquino administration who supposedly misused the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) fund.
"Kasi nandoon 'yung pinakamalalaking nangyari na, if ever, talagang may nakawan; but I’m not prejudging anything," said Aguirre.
"We are going to investigate, and if the evidence warrants, then we are going to file cases against them. Walang sasantuhin," he added.
He said he will be acting on Duterte's directive to prioritize putting a cap on graft and corruption, "no matter who gets hurt."
The DOJ's mandate, he emphasized, is to simply "apply the laws."
Not exempt from Aguirre's watch is religious group Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), which previously had a crisis within its system, with former Sec. Leila De Lima joining the fray and earning flak from the members for allegedly disrespecting the separation of church and state.
"It shouldn’t be taken into consideration insofar as I’m concerned," said Aguirre of the endorsement of INC of Duterte.
"Kung ganun ang paninidigan ng isang prosecutor, then that would be selective," he added.
Among the other pending cases he will have to resolve in his term is the death of 44 PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) in an encounter with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
Aguirre has lawyered for former SAF Director Getulio Napeñas, who has been indicted along with former PNP Chief Alan Purisima.
"Ang nangyari diyan ay nauna pang idemanda sina General Napeñas, samantalang itong mga pumatay ng mga SAF andun pa wala man lang fina-file," he said.
On the Maguindanao Massacre that killed 58 people—32 of which are members of the media—Aguirre said he will "make directives to prosecutors handling the case to expedite."
DUTERTE'S ALTER EGO
Aguirre maintained that his role as a Cabinet secretary is to be the president's alter ego, who will execute the chief executive's plans.
"I'm just an alter ego of the President, so what he wants, I’m going to follow. When I could no longer follow what he wants, then I'm going to resign," he said.
A personal priority, he added, will be the resolution of the 20,000 pending motions for reconsideration in the DOJ. To expedite this, he wants to hire 20 young lawyers who will focus on resolving these cases.
He also wants to stop corruption in the department by giving a higher salary to prosecutors.