MANILA- Senator Bam Aquino on Friday demanded a public apology from Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II who had tagged him and other lawmakers in the ongoing siege in Marawi City without verifying his information.
“The Justice Secretary should simply apologize and take responsibility for his reckless accusations,” Aquino said in a statement, noting that there was no reason for Aguirre to delay his public apology.
Aquino on Thursday said he spoke with Aguirre who admitted to have been confused with all the reports he was getting about the Marawi crisis.
While he has privately said sorry to Aquino, the justice chief vowed to issue a clarification of his earlier allegations, according to the Senator.
Still, Aguirre ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe an alleged destabilization plot against the administration involving opposition figures.
"The least he can do is make a public apology, at hinahanap natin ang pangako na mas magiging maingat na siya sa kanyang mga binibitawang salita,” the senator said.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Aguirre claimed that Aquino, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano and former presidential political adviser Ronald Llamas met with the influential Alonto and Lucman families on May 2, three weeks before fighting in Marawi City erupted.
The justice chief alleged that the meeting could have sparked conflict in the southern city and even claimed to have a photo of such meeting. The photo turned out to be a 2015 image taken at the Iloilo International Airport.
Lawmakers tagged by Aguirre denied meeting in Marawi City.
Aguirre later said he was misquoted by the media despite his quotes being on the record, and apologized for his allegations.
He also denied showing reporters a photo of the purported meeting.
Journalists lashed out at Aguirre's denial, saying the media "will not be scapegoats" of officials who make false public statements.
Clashes between government troops and the Islamic State-backed Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups began in Marawi City on May 23 as troops attempted to arrest Isnilon Hapilon, an Abu Sayyaf leader known as the anointed ISIS leader in Southeast Asia.
The crisis has left more than 200 people dead and displaced more than 200,000 residents.