Duterte appoints resigned DOJ Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II to NAPOLCOM

Marje Pelayo   •   January 12, 2021   •   531

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque confirmed the appointment of former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II as the new Commissioner of the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM).

He will represent the private sector.

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.

READ: Pres. Duterte accepts Aguirre’s resignation

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.

More gov’t offices on lockdown due to COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   March 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The central office of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in Intramuros, Manila and the National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) in Quezon City are on lockdown beginning Thursday (March 18).

Both offices are undergoing disinfection and cleaning activities as measures to curb transmission of COVID-19.

The lockdown will remain until Friday (March 19).

Meanwhile, DOLE offices in BF Condominium and its satellite branch in Antonino Building in Kalaw are also under lockdown after three employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Due to these circumstance, DOLE designated a skeletal workforce until Friday.

Meanwhile, all NAPOLCOM personnel opted to work from home while a receiving personnel will be assigned at the ground floor of the building to accept documents that needed immediate processing.

Normal operations in both government agencies are expected to resume on Monday (March 22).

Separation of IAS and SOCO from PNP, proposed

Marje Pelayo   •   February 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM) Vice Chairman Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre wants the separation of the Internal Affairs Service (IAS) and the Scene of the Crime Operations (SOCO) from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Aguirre said this is to free the two units of pressure from the PNP leadership during the conduct of an investigation.

“Ang ating SOCO o medical examiner ay susceptible sa pressure, sa political pressure and even pressure from the higher-ups. Kaya ang kanya ay talagang dapat ina-isolate yan sa pressure,” Aguirre said.

Aguirre said he will seek the guidance of the NAPOLCOM en banc on the matter.

“The office of the SOCO or the medical examiner should be independent from the PNP but still attached to the NAPOLCOM,” he added.

In a text message, Atty. Alfegar Triambulo, the inspector general of the IAS, welcomes the proposal

“Pabor ako sa balak niyang pagsulong ng IAS independence and fiscal autonomy,” Triambulo said.

“Embedded autonomy. Part siya ng organization sa PNP pero hindi siya under kaninuman sa mga namumuno nito kaya malaya siyang mag-imbestiga lahat ng aspect of misconduct and illegal or irregularities ng mga pulis at mga units ng PNP,” he added. MNP (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

Aguirre denies links to ‘pastillas scheme’

Robie de Guzman   •   September 22, 2020

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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