Forgive and forget? De Lima counts Aguirre's 'sins'; latter counts achievements

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 10 2018 12:46 PM

Detained Senator Leila de Lima and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II. Composite

Detained Senator Leila de Lima on Tuesday refused to celebrate the resignation of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, saying she expects the latter to bag another juicy post even as drug personalities go scot-free. 

In a statement, De Lima said Aguirre is a sacrificial henchman as President Rodrigo Duterte is expecting the people to "forgive and forget" supposed evidence of corruption during Aguirre's stay in the justice department. 

"By sacrificing his loyal henchman, or should I say 'hatchet man', umaasa si Pangulong Duterte na kalilimutan na natin ang mga kasalanan nila sa bayan. Kakalimutan natin ang P50 million bribery/extortion scandal na kinasangkutan nito," she said, referring to the P50-million bribery scandal involving Aguirre's frat brothers. 

De Lima said it was Aguirre who floated the idea that minority lawmakers could have links to the Marawi siege, an accusation he later retracted. 

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II shows the media his purported proof that opposition figures met in Marawi City days before clashes between government troops and terror groups began. The photo turned out to be a 2015 image taken at the Iloilo airport. Screenshot from TV Patrol

It was also Aguirre who was caught sending a text message to VACC member and former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras to fast-track cases against Sen. Risa Hontiveros for helping witnesses in the Kian delos Santos slay case.

De Lima criticized Aguirre for accepting alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Napoles as a provisional witness in the state's witness protection program. 

Even worse, she said thousands of people have been killed in the Duterte administration's drug war even as no "big fish" has been brought to justice in connection with the P6.4 billion shabu shipment.

She said Aguirre used convicted drug traffickers to testify against her while dropping drug charges against confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, his co-accused Peter Lim, and several others.

"The self-confessed drug traffickers in the Bilibid have mostly gone scot-free, in exchange for falsely testifying against me. Self-confessed Kerwin Espinosa has gone scot-free. Peter Lim has gone scot-free. Duterte might make a show of throwing a tantrum and firing Aguirre, but we know better: Peter Lim is too big a fish for Duterte to truly fry," she said. 

She added: "I will deny Duterte the satisfaction of falling for this zarzuela. In fact, judging by his propensity for going back on his word and rewarding abusive behavior, I won’t be surprised if Aguirre eventually resurfaces once again, with another appointment to another juicy post or some other boon from his fraternity brother and benefactor."

AGUIRRE TOUTS ACHIEVEMENTS

For his part, Aguirre touted the Department of Justice's achievements under his leadership as he exits the agency after a string of gaffes and corruption allegations.

Aguirre said among the agency's achievements in his nearly 2-year stint are the grant of longer leaves for prosecutors, the groundbreaking of at least 7 DOJ facilities nationwide, the procurement of computers, printers, and other equipment, and the increase of DOJ's provident fund to P57.35 million from P122,400.

"In our own humble way, we have delivered on our promise to make the DOJ better than when we found it," Aguirre said in his last speech as Justice chief at the DOJ's flag ceremony. 

"We have achieved this by hard work and indomitable faith," he said.

Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte said he accepted Aguirre's resignation letter, and immediately appointed Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra as his replacement.

The executive branch did not give specific reasons for Aguirre's departure, but his relief came weeks after the DOJ junked drug-related charges against self-confessed drug lords Kerwin Espinosa, Peter Lim, and several others.

Aguirre also received flak last month after the Justice department provisionally accepted alleged pork barrel mastermind Janet Lim Napoles into the Witness Protection Program.

Aguirre said he allowed Napoles to become state witness as "she is not the most guilty" in the pork barrel scam case that funneled billions of taxpayer's money into personal accounts of Napoles, and high-ranking politicians.

Last year, Aguirre was also implicated in a bribery scandal after 2 Bureau of Immigration officials told senators that Aguirre knew about the transaction.

Aguirre sacked the men, and replaced them with his godson.

Aguirre was Duterte's schoolmate and fraternity brother during their law school days in San Beda College.