By Jeffrey Damicog
Former Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II would have remained at his post had it not been to the latest “furor” he got entangled in, said newly-appointed Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra.
“ If only these things did not happen… these series of events sort of raised eyebrows on the part of the public about the actuations of the DOJ (Department of Justice), I believe Secretary Vit would still be enjoying the trust of the President and would continue to be the DOJ Secretary,” admitted Guevarra.
The Secretary pointed out President Rodrigo Duterte had been happy in choosing Aguirre to the post, had it not been to the latest controversies.
Guevarra yesterday (April 11) already rolled up his sleeves and began work at his new position.
The first thing he did was meet with key officials of agencies and offices of the DOJ.
Guevarra disclosed he still intends to meet again with his predecessor whom he last saw in Malacanang last Thursday before Duterte announced Aguirre’s resignation.
“May be I would invite him for a cup of coffee to discuss transition matters,” Guevarra said.
“I admired him a lot. I know him to be a very good person and malaki ang respect ko kay Sec. Vit (I have a lot of respective to Aguirre),” he added.
On the other hand, he reiterated that he would “review the past actions of the DOJ.”
Recently, Guevarra said he will review the dismissal of the drug complaint against Kerwin Espinosa Jr. and his co-respondents as well as the witness status given to alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim Napoles.
Prior his resignation, Aguirre drew flak over the dismissal of the drug complaint against Espinosa and his co-accused and for placing Napoles provisionally under the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has already issued a certification which stated that: “Janet Lim-Napoles has been provisionally covered by the Witness Protection Security and Benefit Program (WPSBP) effective February 27, 2018.”
The certification was signed by the Program Director, Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Ma. Nerissa Molina-Carpio.
However, Aguirre refused to disclose the contents of the sworn statements of Napoles which are being used in the deal to turn her into a state witness.
On the other hand, a DOJ panel of prosecutors issued a December 20 resolution which dismissed due to weak evidence the complaint filed by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group’s Major Crimes Investigation Unit (PNP-CIDG-MCIU) against Espinosa and his co-respondents for allegedly violating Section 26(b) in relation to Section 5 (Sale, Trading, Administration, Dispensation, Delivery, Distribution and Transportation of Dangerous Drugs and/or Controlled Precursors and Essential Chemicals) of Republic Act 9165, also known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Apart from Espinosa, those who have been named as respondents in the complaint are convicted alleged drug lord Peter Lim, convicted drug lord Peter Co, alleged drug supplier Lovely Impal, drug dealer Marcelo Adorco, Max Miro, Ruel Malindangan, Jun Pepito, and several others known through the aliases Amang, Ricky, Warren, Tupie, Jojo, Jaime, Yawa, Lapi, Royroy, Marlon, and Bay.
The PNP based its complaint on the sworn statements issued by Adorco who was arrested on July 8, 2016 during a drug buy-bust operation in Albuera, Leyte.
After receiving criticisms over the dismissal of the complaint, Aguirre had already ordered the December 20 resolution “vacated” and had formed a new panel of prosecutors to resume the conduct of the preliminary investigation into the complaint.