Duterte angered by dismissal of charges against drug lords



President Rodrigo Duterte may have warned that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre would take the place in jail of incarcerated drug lords whose cases were dismissed by the Department of Justice but this may not happen.


Malacañang said on Thursday that President Duterte still trusts Aguirre but unhappy with the dismissal of charges against drug lord suspects Kerwin Espinosa and Peter Lim.

“He (Duterte) said so,” Roque responded when asked if Aguirre still enjoys the trust of the President during a Palace media briefing.

“Maybe the trust remains because if not, he should have been fired by the President. And the President has not hesitated to fire even members of the Cabinet. For as long as he has not been fired, he enjoys the trust and confidence of the President,” he added.

Roque said President Duterte doesn’t waste words even when he had said “in jokingly manner” that Aguirre has to replace Lim and Espinosa in jail if self-confessed drug lord Espinosa and Lim get away with drug offenses.

“But as I said, while you don’t take the President literally, you must take him seriously. He (Aguirre) considers this as a joke and in fact he said it in rather jokingly manner,” Roque explained.

Roque said for the last six months that he had been working as presidential spokesperson, “he (Duterte) doesn’t waste words.”

“Unlike me, I’m very verbose ‘no. But the President does not waste words,” Roque said.

“I think the message is: He is not happy with the decision,” he added.

Roque believes that Aguirre took the President’s words seriously as the DOJ chief formed a new panel that will look into the cases of the two drug lord suspects.

“I think he has, that’s why he (has) already taken steps to create a new investigation panel,” he said.

Roque, meanwhile, said the dismissal of drug charges against Lim and Espinosa has nothing to do with the appointment of DOJ prosecutor Aristole Reyes as Regional Trial Court judge.

Reyes was reportedly one of the two DOJ prosecutors who dismissed Espinosa and Lim’s charges. Reyes also cleared customs officials linked in the smuggling of PHP6.4 billion worth of shabu from China.

“I don’t think so. And it’s farfetched. If at all, if the President knew that he cleared these individuals, he probably would not have been appointed. So I think the question has a wrong premise,” Roque said. (PNA)

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