Aguirre: SC ‘vindicates’ DOJ for affirming De Lima’s arrest
Marje Pelayo • June 8, 2018 • 4051
FILE PHOTO: Former Department of Justice Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre
MANILA, Philippines – Former Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II was pleased by the Supreme Court’s (SC) decision to “deny with finality” Senator Leila De Lima’s motion for reconsideration on her arrest over drug charges filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ.)
In his statement, Aguirre said the decision has “vindicated” the DOJ.
“All the efforts that our team at the DOJ have previously exerted in this case are now paying off. With the SC decision, we have proven that this case is one of rightful prosecution and not of political persecution as claimed by some,” Aguirre said.
The High Court initially based its decision on the charges of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading against De Lima and ordered the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court to proceed with the investigation.
De Lima questioned the Muntinlupa Court’s issuance of arrest order as she argued that it should be the Sandiganbayan who has jurisdiction over her person being a Senator.
Aguirre added that this development should “serve as a warning to all who deal in drugs and who profit from it” because “the Duterte Administration is serious as it is relentless.” – UNTV News & Rescue
MANILA, Philippines – Opposition Senator Leila de Lima has formally announced her bid for reelection in the 2022 national polls.
In a press release issued by her camp, De Lima said “the political persecution she has been subjected to by the Duterte regime only strengthened her resolve to fight for her advocacies.”
De Lima said her “unjust detention” prompted her to seek reelection and work harder “to defend human rights at all cost.”
The lady senator earlier chided President Rodrigo Duterte for failing to fulfill all of his campaign promises.
This, she expressed through a letter to the Chief Executive days before Duterte’s sixth and final state of the nation address (SONA).
Among the issues she referred to include illegal drugs, corruption, the West Philippine Sea (WPS) and the state of the country’s economy.
“Mahigit na apat na taon mo na akong ipinakulong para maitago ang iyong pagka-inutil, bukod pa sa paghihiganti mo sa akin. Mahigit na apat na taon na ipinagkait mo sa akin, sa aking pamilya, at sa labing-apat na milyon na bumoto sa akin. Mahigit na apat na taon na akin ngayong sisingilin sa pagtatapos ng iyong termino,” she said.
“Tatakbo akong muli. Hindi ako susuko. Tuloy ang laban. Sisingilin ka namin sa anim na taon na pambabalasubas mo sa aming bansa,” De Lima stressed.
Considered as Duterte’s staunchest critic, De Lima is known for her strong opposition to the current administration’s “murderous and failed” war on drugs which she claimed to have resulted in the death of thousands of suspected drug offenders.
She has been in detention since February 24, 2017 over drug charges.
Roque said Aguirre’s services as secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) during the early years of the Duterte Administration “bodes well in his new position to make the police service competent, effective, credible and responsive to our people’s needs.”
In April 2018, Aguirre resigned amid controversies in the justice department.
Among these include the P50-M bribery scandal of Bureau of Immigration (BI); the submission of alleged mastermind Janet Lim Napoles under witness protection program and the dismissal of charges against self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa and alleged drug lord Peter Lim.
MANILA, Philippines – Former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Tuesday denied allegations that he is the protector of the group behind the so-called pastillas scheme in the Bureau of Immigration (BI).
During the resumption of the Senate probe on the issue, Aguirre refuted media practitioner Ramon Tulfo Jr.’s claims, saying it was only fueled by “vendetta and dirty politics.”
Aguirre said Tulfo’s accusations against him might be connected to the time when he was still DOJ secretary and he denied the latter’s request to consolidate his libel cases.
Aguirre served as Secretary of Justice from 2016 to 2018.
In March this year, Tulfo accused Aguirre of involvement in the pastillas scheme after he placed the father and son tandem of Maynardo and Red Mariñas to head the visa upon arrival system in the country. Tulfo also claimed that a chopper regularly delivers kickback from the scheme to Aguirre’s hometown in Mulanay, Quezon.
The former secretary, however, denied Tulfo’s allegations.
“Alam mo, kapag ikaw sumulat ng anuman o mag-akusa ng anuman na wala kang ebidensya, malicious yan, Tulfo!” Aguirre said during the hearing.
“Kung totoo ‘yang sinasabi mo, hindi ba yan Mr. Tulfo na dapat yan ay ililhim mo? Para walang makakitang ibang tao. Pero kabaliktaran, ginagawa mo akong isang istupidong Department of Justice secretary na ipagwawadwaran ko pa ang mga panunuhol sa akin,” he added.
He also reasoned that he already resigned from the post when the issue surfaced.
“As such, I am bereft of power or authority to control, much less head, a syndicate operating in the BI,” he said.
Aside from Aguirre and Tulfo, whistleblower Allison Chiong also attended the probe.
He told senators that high-ranking officials including those in the travel control and enforcement unit and terminal heads at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport who are allegedly involved in the scheme have yet to face charges.
“Sa immigration po kasi, itong term na boss, napaka parang broad… Oh halimbawa ah, ‘sabi ng mga boss, i-check niyo daw muna sa loob kasi nagmamanman ang NBI diyan. So lahat ang checking sa loob. Wala po dito ‘yun. Wala dito ‘yung mga boss,” he said.
Nineteen Immigration officers allegedly linked to the pastillas scheme are currently facing charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation at the Office of the Ombudsman.
The modus was called pastillas, derived from a Filipino sweet and sticky dessert, because the bribe money that some personnel receive were concealed inside rolled up papers.
The scheme allegedly takes advantage of Chinese casino high-rollers and offshore gaming workers who wish to be escorted to dodge the immigration screening process for a fee.
According to Senator Risa Hontivers, chairperson of the Senate committee on women, children family relations and gender equality that has been conducting the probe, the panel will study recommendations to implement a reshuffle in the Immigration bureau, and suspend officers who are facing charges as well as those involved in the visa upon arrival system. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)
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