Malacañang on Tuesday rejected rumors that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has sacked Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II over the dismissal of drug trafficking charges against businessman Peter Lim and self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
“No statement from PRRD (President Rodrigo R. Duterte) to that effect,” Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a short statement.
Last March 13, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, via Twitter, quoted Duterte saying that if Lim and Espinosa get away with their crimes, Aguirre would replace them in jail.
Duterte, according to Roque, questioned the dismissal, noting that Espinosa had previously admitted that he was indeed a drug lord.
Despite Duterte’s statement, Roque said that Aguirre still had Duterte’s trust and confidence.
“For as long as he has not been fired, he enjoys the trust and confidence of the President, as you know, as is the case with all of us,” Roque said.
Lawmakers have been calling for the firing or Aguirre’s resignation.
However, the Justice secretary said that he had no plans of resigning.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) earlier said that a preliminary investigation on the dismissed charges, which would be handled by the new panel of prosecutors, had been set on April 12, 1 p.m.
The new panel of prosecutors assigned by Aguirre is composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Juan Pedro Navera, Assistant State Prosecutor Anna Norren Devanadera, and Prosecution Attorney Herbert Calvin Abugan. (PNA)