Vice President Leni Robredo on Tuesday scored Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II for making false claims against critics of President Rodrigo Duterte, the latest of which was an alleged meeting of opposition lawmakers in Marawi City over a supposed destabilization plot against the government.
Robredo said the Justice secretary's actions were “scary” because they lessened the public’s trust not only on Aguirre, but on the Justice department itself.
“Meron tayong Department of Justice na ‘yung head, may mga sinasabing hindi totoo. Tingin ko nakakatakot ‘yon kasi ‘yung Department of Justice, dapat siya ‘yung nangunguna, sinisiguro na ‘yung... parang ‘yung justice will prevail over all of us,” the Vice President said in an interview in Taysan, Batangas, which she visited with partners of her office’s “Angat Buhay” program.
“‘Pag ‘yung sinasabi niya hindi totoo, parang nawawala ‘yung tiwala ng tao sa institusyon mismo. Hindi lang naman sa kaniya, pero sa institusyon,” she added.
Last week, Aguirre alleged that opposition lawmakers, including Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, met with local officials and former presidential adviser on political affairs Ronald Llamas in Marawi City ahead of the attacks there of the Maute local terror group.
Aquino is a member of the former ruling Liberal Party, where Robredo — now its highest elected official — currently sits as chair.
Aguirre claimed that the meeting, which he said was held last May 2, could have “sparked the terroristic acts” in the city.
All three lawmakers have denied his allegation. Official records showed that they were present during that day’s session in the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectively.
Aguirre has since backtracked in this claim, saying he was misquoted by the media. He specifically only cleared Aquino from the said allegation, but said he had “nothing to apologize for.” The lawmakers, meanwhile, are considering the possibility of filing charges against him.
Institutions ‘challenging’ each other
Meanwhile, the Vice President also raised concerns over the seeming struggle among institutions in the country.
Robredo issued the said comment when asked to elaborate on a speech she made at a democracy forum held on Independence Day, when she called on Filipinos to help defend democracy by uniting to save institutions that are “being eroded.”
Asked which institutions these are, she said: “Lahat,” and linked it to how institutions seem to be “challenging” each other recently.
“‘[Y]ung Constitution natin has enough provisions on separation of powers, and vis-a-vis, ‘yung checks and balances. Nandu’n ‘yun sa Konstitusyon, pero lately kasi, maraming parang pag-challenge—pag-challenge ng powers ng bawat isa. Marami tayong naririnig na, ‘Hindi ko susundin ‘yung gagawin nito,’” she said.
“Tingin ko nakakatakot ‘yon. Nakakatakot ‘yon kasi ‘pag mga government agencies na, or government instrumentalities na, ‘yung hindi naniniwala sa nakalagay sa Konstitusyon, ‘yung nacha-challenge na sa atin ‘yung democracy na mismo,” she added.
The Vice President’s remarks come amid the ongoing disagreement over President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao, with several groups questioning the constitutionality of the said proclamation before the Supreme Court.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has warned of a constitutional crisis if the high court interferes with Congress’ decision not to hold a joint session on the declaration.
He said he would “rip” a directive for a joint session, if ever the high court issues one to Congress. — GMA News