MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II believes it is possible that the leaking of a confidential document showing that he authorized the granting of privileges to high-profile inmates as a reward for testifying on alleged drug links of Sen. Leila de Lima is intended to block his confirmation by the Commission on Appointments (CA).
“The motive is because my confirmation hearing would happen soon,” Aguirre said.
The justice secretary is expected to face the CA again on Feb. 15.
The CA hearing on Aguirre’s confirmation was deferred last Feb. 1 after Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV filed two sworn oppositions asking the panel to reject Aguirre’s appointment for lack of “required demeanor befitting the position of justice secretary” and for allegedly being vindictive.
The high-profile inmates who testified against De Lima, a critic of President Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, were housed at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).
The confidential memorandum of the Bureau of Corrections was dated Dec. 9, 2016 and was signed by BuCor legal office chief Alvin Herrera Lim and addressed to BuCor director general Benjamin delos Santos.
The document showed that Aguirre gave instructions to allow the entry of gadgets for the high-profile inmates housed at the ISAFP in exchange for their testimonies against De Lima during the congressional inquiry.
“When pressed for comment, elements of both Philippine National Police and BuCor invoked that they are just following the express instruction of the Hon. Vitaliano Aguirre II to allow the entry of the above-enumerated gadgets in return for the testimony they gave during the congressional inquiry on the proliferation of drugs inside the New Bilibid Prison,” a portion of the confidential document reads.