Senators on Aguirre resignation: Time for someone 'credible, capable' in DOJ
MANILA, Philippines – Opposition senators on Thursday, April 5, welcomed the resignation of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, saying the people deserve someone who is “credible, capable, and respectable” at the helm of the Department of Justice.
“Sa mata ng taumbayan, pawala na nang pawala ang kredibilidad ni dating Justice Secretary Aguirre sa bawat kapalpakan at palihis na kilos nito (Outgoing Justice Secretary Aguirre has lost credibility before the public with each blunder he committed),” Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV said in a statement.
“The Filipino people deserve a credible, capable, and respectable Justice Secretary who will lead with integrity and rebuild our trust in the Department of Justice,” he added.
Senator Risa Hontiveros called Aguirre's resignation a "hollow gesture" considering the "damage" done by the official during his nearly two-year stint in the Department of Justice.
"The damage is done. By being allowed to stay in his post for the longest time, Mr Aguirre turned the justice department into a leading purveyor of fake news, a manufacturer of fake legal cases to harass the opposition, and a refuge for drug lords, plunderers, and other high-profile criminals," Hontiveros said.
"Our justice system is now in shambles, with more and more people trusting it less and less. Mr Aguirre's resignation is a hollow gesture. Sorry, but 'too late the hero for 'justice zero,'" she added.
Hontiveros added, however, that Aguirre's departure from office is a "clear victory against injustice and impunity."
She appealed to the public to keep a close eye on the selection of the next justice secretary.
"I urge the public to continue to exact accountability from this administration and closely follow the Executive branch's process of appointing a new DOJ chief. We need to build on this victory to fully rehabilitate our justice system and restore the people's confidence in our democratic institutions," Hontiveros said.
Malacañang later announced that the President has chosen Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra to replace Aguirre.
Not yet off the hook
In a statement on Wednesday, April 4, when it was reported that Aguirre was on his way out, Senator Francis Pangilinan cited Aguirre’s “long and serious” list of blunders that justify his replacement.
“From one blunder to the next, Secretary Aguirre, wittingly or unwittingly, has been showing how unfit he is for the position,” he said in a statement.
The list includes being linked to the P50-million Bureau of Immigration bribery scandal, spreading false information against lawmakers over the Marawi siege, downgrading the murder charges against cops in the death of Albuera Mayor Roland Espinosa, clearing former Customs officials including Nicanor Faeldon in the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling case, and the continuing drug trade in the National Bilibid Prison under his watch.
Senator Grace Poe, for her, part, said that the resignation of any Cabinet official should not absolve him of any abuses or oversight he might have committed while in office.
"Whether the exit was graceful or unceremonious, one thing is also certain – the actions undertaken by the resigned official while in office can be assessed and if abuses or oversight were committed, he cannot claim immunity from having to account for them," Poe said.
"Hindi maaaring kapag napaso sa publiko, papalitan na lang nang walang kaparusahan o pagkastigo man lang (It cannot be that an official would just be replaced without being punished or castigated)," she added. – Rappler.com