By Jeffrey G. Damicog and Hannah L. Torregoza
Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II has ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate reports that members of the opposition have been involved in destabilization plot.
Aguirre gave the directive in Department Order (DO) No. 385 dated June 7 which informed NBI Director Dante Gierran of the task assigned to the Bureau.
In his order, the secretary told the NBI it is “directed and granted authority to conduct investigation and case build-up over the alleged destablization plot against the government of the Republic of the Philippines by some senators and other opposition leaders, and if evidence warrants, to file the appropriate cases against those who may be found liable.”
DOJ Assistant Secretary Juvy Ramirez-Manwong said DO No. 385 was issued immediately after the June 7 morning press briefing of Aguirre when he disclosed reports he received that Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, former presidential adviser for political affairs Ronald Llamas, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Allejano Alejano, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV) met in Marawi City on May 2 with influential Moro clans including the Lucman and the Alonto prior the attack of the Maute terrorist group.
During the June 7 briefing, Aguirre briefly showed reporters a picture of the alleged meeting which included Alejano, Trillanes, Llamas, former Pampanga Governor Mark Lapid and former Zamboanga del Sur Vice Governor Ace Cerilles.
However, the same photo also appeared in the Facebook account of Cerilles but was posted on Sept. 4, 2015 at the Iloilo International Airport.
Since then, Aguirre has issued an apology for dragging the names of the Aquino as well as the Alonte and Lucman clans.
In a statement issued yesterday, the DOJ said: “What he did was to swiftly flash one picture on his cellular phone, but he did not allow the media to take pictures of the same precisely because the same is pending verification.”
The DOJ reiterated Aquino doesn’t seem to be present in the May 2 meeting in Marawi City as its stated that “upon further verification, Secretary Aguirre was able to establish that Sen. Bam Aquino went to Marawi City on May 19, 2017 upon invitation of Gov. Soraya Alonto-Adiong to promote the Go Negosyo Program.”
Meanwhile, Senator Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV pressed on Aguirre to make a public apology over his pronouncements linking members of the opposition to the ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City.
Aquino said he is baffled over Aguirre’s delay saying there’s no reason to wait until Monday to correct his mistakes.
“The Justice secretary should simply apologize and take responsibility for his reckless accusations,” Aquino said in a statement.
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