MANILA - Former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Friday accused special envoy to China Ramon Tulfo of defaming him in his column for newspaper Manila Times.
Aguirre, who stepped down as justice chief in April last year, said Tulfo accused him of protecting human traffickers during his stint as justice secretary.
"Lately, about a month before the elections and without an iota of evidence, Mon again defamed me by accusing me in his Manila Times’ column as the protector of human trafficking," he said in a statement.
"His supposed evidence are pictures during some happy anniversaries depicting me with some people he was accusing of human trafficking, though the pictures also showed some congressmen and other high government officials who were likewise in invited to the occasions."
Aguirre said the accusation is "baseless" as the Philippines achieved a Tier 1 ranking, the highest, in the 2018 US State Department Trafficking in Persons Report during his time at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
"We are the first and only country among ASEAN nations and only the third country in Asia to attain Tier 1 ranking," he said.
The former justice chief said Tulfo's attacks against him began when he could not consolidate the libel cases filed against Mon by the Iglesia ni Cristo as he only had appellate jurisdiction.
"Feeling entitled and full of arrogance in his system, he went berserk and told me that he was not born yesterday, that I could help him if I wanted to, and that the reason why I refused to act on his request immediately was because I wanted to ingratiate myself to INC for their votes because I wanted to run as senator in the 2019 elections," he said.
"Then he attacked me in his column and made so many defamatory comments against me."
Aguirre said Tulfo and his brother Erwin continued their attacks when the DOJ cleared self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, convicted drug lord Peter Co, and several others of charges related to the narcotics trade.
The DOJ later indicted the suspects after it earned President Rodrigo Duterte's ire.
Aguirre's statement comes after Tulfo was stripped of his security detail following the tirade of his brother Erwin against Social Welfare Secretary and former Army chief Rolando Bautista.
The military, however, said the incidents were unrelated and that the recall had already been scheduled since last year.
"These brothers never learn. I believe that they are apologizing because they never expected the gravity of the backlash, coming as it did from the military and the police, the sector that the Tulfos could not afford to fight at this time," Aguirre said.
"It is my opinion, judging from my own experiences, if they would be off the hook without them learning their lessons, they would be back in their entitled and arrogant ways in no time at all."
Tulfo has yet to respond to Aguirre's allegation.