MANILA - Just resigned Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday was silent on why he left President Rodrigo Duterte's cabinet as he asserted that he was leaving the Department of Justice (DOJ) "better" than when he came.
In his first public statement since quitting, Aguirre, criticized during his time as DOJ chief for unverified claims and questionable resolutions, thanked the President for trusting him as head of the justice department.
"I sincerely thank our beloved President, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, for the trust and the confidence he reposed on me as his first Secretary of Justice," said the outgoing justice chief, the President's classmate and fraternity brother at the San Beda law school.
"I am equally thankful for the opportunity to have served our countrymen as the steward of your DOJ," he added.
The President had on Thursday said he has accepted the resignation of Aguirre and appointed the latter's replacement, Menardo Guevarra, just hours later.
This as rumors swirled that Aguirre may be on his way out.
In his statement, Aguirre made no mention of the controversies being linked to him, including rumors that the President has had enough of his department’s handling of various cases.
Duterte had previously expressed displeasure over the justice department's dismissal of charges against drug suspects Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim. Espinosa earlier confessed to drug involvement.
Amid public outrage, Aguirre ordered a new investigation into Espinosa's and Lim's drug case, leaving it “wide open” for new evidence and testimonies.
Without baring reasons for his resignation, Aguirre thanked his colleagues at the DOJ and boasted that the department has improved.
"In our own humble way, we have delivered on our promise to make the DOJ better than when we found it," Aguirre said.
"As I leave the Department of Justice, I find comfort in the thought that, by our collective efforts, we have improved the DOJ in key areas. We have achieved this by hard work and indomitable faith in the protection, providence and guidance of the Almighty," he added.
The former justice chief also urged the public to support his successor.
"Moving forward, I humbly ask everyone to welcome with the same degree of enthusiasm and cooperation, more if need be, the team of incoming Secretary Menardo Guevarra," he said.