MANILA — Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II shrugged off calls from the Liberal Party (LP) for his resignation as head of the agency, saying he was not the one who spread information on the group’s attempts to bribe the parents of Grade 11 student Kian Loyd Delos Santos in exchange for their participation in political rallies against the Duterte administration.
Aguirre was reacting to LP’s claim that the former accused the opposition of bribing Kian’s parents to lure them into their propaganda against President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I was asked by Mr. Jojo Robles during a radio interview if I knew anything about the PHP2 million offered to the parents of Kian. I replied that I also heard something about it but I did not mention any amount,” Aguirre explained.
He said his stint as the head of the Department of Justice (DOJ) would depend on President Duterte’s trust.
“I serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority, the President, and not of any political party,” Aguirre added.
In a statement, the LP strongly denied the bribery allegations.
“The party has not made any contact with Mr. and Mrs. Delos Santos outside of commiserating with them at Kian’s wake and funeral. For his repeated issuances of erroneous claims, thereby diminishing the stature of his office, we call on Secretary Aguirre to resign,” the LP said.
“This is not the first time that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre lied about LP. We recall numerous instances the Secretary himself had to recant and apologize for that fake news he spread about the party and its members,” it added.
On Wednesday, the DOJ formed a three-man panel of prosecutors to conduct preliminary investigation on the charges against the four policemen involved in Delos Santos’ death.
The creation of the three-man panel was based on the order from the Office of the Prosecutor General dated Aug. 29 2017, signed by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Severino H. Gana Jr.
Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Tofel G. Austria, Assistant State Prosecutor Amanda L. Garcia and Associate Prosecutor Attorney Moises Acayan were tasked to handle the initial probe on the cases. (PNA)